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Can I evict a tenant for an unauthorized pet?

Can I evict a tenant for an unauthorized pet?

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2023 | landlord-tenant disputes |

Landlords have several legitimate reasons why they include pet policies on their rental contracts. A good pet policy protects the rental property, complies with insurance regulations and ensures that everyone is safe. Some landlords opt to include a “no pet” clause in their lease contracts altogether. 

But, what if a tenant acquires a pet midway through the tenancy contract? Can you evict them? Is this true even if the tenant claims that the pet is a service animal or therapy animal for some condition they have?

An unauthorized pet can be a serious cause of a landlord-tenant dispute. However, before making the decision to evict the tenant, it helps to understand the circumstances that prompted them to acquire the pet and what the law says. 

Some animals are more than just pets

The 1968 Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants on the basis of their race, religion or other protected characteristics. The same law protects tenants from discrimination based on their physical features or special needs. 

According to the FHA, emotional support animals, companion animals and therapy animals are terms used to refer to animals that provide comfort to people by virtue of being with them. 

Therefore, if your tenant has a valid doctor or therapist’s approval to own a companion animal, then you may not evict them from the rental property. Rather, the FHA requires that you provide reasonable accommodation for the tenant in question. 

Landlord-tenant disputes are triggered by a number of factors. Find out how you can navigate the subject of pet ownership on your rental property.