Free Pet Addendum for Residential Lease Agreements
According to recent surveys, approximately 44% of renters in the United States have at least one pet. This represents a significant portion of the rental market and highlights the need for landlords to consider the presence of pets when creating lease agreements and managing rental properties.
As the demand for pet-friendly rentals continues to grow, it is important for landlords to have a clear understanding of their rights and responsibilities when it comes to allowing pets in their properties. This includes understanding the laws surrounding emotional support animals, creating clear pet policies, and having a pet addendum in place to outline the terms and conditions of having a pet in the rental unit.
Pets in rental properties can be a contentious issue, as they can cause damage and create additional responsibilities for landlords. In such cases, it's important for landlords to have a pet addendum in place, outlining the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant.
A pet addendum is a document that outlines the terms of a rental agreement, specifically regarding the presence of pets. It includes details such as pet type, weight and breed restrictions, pet fees, and any additional security deposits required.
Writing a Pet Addendum
Landlords need a pet addendum when the tenant plans on bringing a pet to live with them. This document helps to clearly define the expectations and responsibilities of both parties, and can help to minimize potential disputes.
A pet addendum typically includes the following details:
- Types of pets allowed: This section specifies the types of pets allowed, such as cats, dogs, birds, etc. It may also include restrictions on the number of pets allowed per unit, or on specific breeds or sizes of pets.
- Pet fees: This section outlines any additional fees charged to the tenant for having a pet, such as pet rent, pet deposits, or one-time fees.
- Responsibility for damages: This section outlines the tenant's responsibility for any damages caused by their pet, and how the damages will be repaired and paid for. It may also specify that the tenant is responsible for removing any pet waste and cleaning up after their pet.
- Liability coverage: This section specifies if the tenant is required to have liability insurance coverage for their pet, and what the minimum coverage limits should be.
- Quiet hours and leash requirements: This section outlines the tenant's responsibility to ensure that their pet does not disturb other tenants or neighbors, and if necessary, specifies quiet hours and requirements for leashing pets while on the property.
- Pet rules and regulations: This section outlines any specific rules and regulations regarding pets in the building, such as areas where pets are not allowed, requirements for waste disposal, etc.
- Termination clause: This section outlines the conditions under which the pet addendum may be terminated, such as if the pet causes excessive damage, violates quiet hours, or is deemed a nuisance.
It's important to keep in mind that pet addendums should be legally binding and enforceable, and should be consistent with local laws and regulations regarding pets in rental properties.
What Could Happen If You Don’t Cover All Types of Pets in a Lease?
If you don't cover all types of pets in a lease, it can lead to several potential issues. Some of these include:
- Legal Liability: If a tenant brings an unexpected pet into the rental property and it causes damage, the landlord may be held legally liable if they have not included clear guidelines regarding pets in the lease agreement.
- Unplanned Costs: If a tenant brings a pet that was not covered in the lease agreement and it causes damage, the landlord may be left with unplanned costs for repairs.
- Violation of Fair Housing Laws: Excluding certain types of pets or species from a lease agreement may violate fair housing laws, which prohibit discrimination based on a tenant's race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability.
- Conflicts with Other Tenants: Allowing some pets and not others may cause conflicts between tenants and may lead to complaints or disputes.
- Difficulty Enforcing Pet Policies: If pet policies are not clearly defined and included in the lease agreement, it can be difficult for landlords to enforce them in the event of a dispute or violation.
In order to avoid these issues, it is important to include clear and comprehensive guidelines regarding pets in the lease agreement, and to have a pet addendum that covers all types of pets and outlines the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and tenant.
What about Emotional Support Animals?
Emotional support animals (ESA) are protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities, including allowing them to keep an ESA in their rental unit. This means that a pet addendum cannot exclude emotional support animals.
However, a landlord can require documentation from a tenant's healthcare provider verifying the need for an ESA, and they can also impose reasonable restrictions on the size, weight, or breed of the animal if it is necessary for the safety of other tenants or the property.
It is important to note that emotional support animals are different from service animals, which are trained to perform specific tasks for individuals with disabilities. Service animals are not considered pets and cannot be excluded by a pet addendum.
It is important for landlords to understand the legal requirements surrounding emotional support animals, and to consult with legal counsel if they have any questions or concerns. By following the law and making reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities, landlords can avoid disputes and ensure a positive living experience for all tenants.
Pros & Cons regarding pets
Allowing pets in a rental property can have both pros and cons. On one hand, allowing pets can increase the pool of potential renters, as many people have pets and would prefer to live in a pet-friendly building. On the other hand, pets can cause damage and extra maintenance responsibilities for the landlord.
Pros of Allowing Pets in Rental Properties:
- Increased pool of potential renters
- Potential for longer tenant stays
- Increased rental income (pet fees, pet deposits)
- Pet owners may be more responsible and take better care of the property
- Pets can provide emotional and physical benefits to the tenants
Cons of Allowing Pets in Rental Properties:
- Increased risk of property damage (scratches on doors, walls and floors, accidents, etc.)
- Increased maintenance costs for repairs and cleaning
- Noise and odor complaints from other tenants
- Potential liability for pet-related injuries or damage to other tenants or guests
- Restrictions on the types of pets allowed (e.g. breeds, size, weight) may create legal issues.
Pet deposit vs. pet rent/fees
A pet deposit is a fee that a landlord may charge a tenant for bringing a pet into the rental property. This deposit is usually separate from the standard security deposit and is refundable at the end of the tenancy, subject to conditions outlined in the lease agreement.
The purpose of the pet deposit is to provide the landlord with financial protection in case of any damages caused by the pet. For example, if the pet scratches the floor or damages the walls, the landlord can use the pet deposit to cover the costs of repairs.
In terms of whether a pet deposit or pet rent is better, it depends on the specific circumstances and the preferences of the landlord and tenant.
A pet deposit gives the landlord financial security, as it provides a source of funds that can be used to cover any damages caused by the pet. However, it also requires the tenant to pay a larger upfront cost when moving in.
Pet rent, on the other hand, is an ongoing monthly fee that the tenant pays in addition to their rent. This can be a more manageable cost for the tenant, but it may not provide the same level of financial protection for the landlord in case of damages caused by the pet.
Ultimately, the choice between a pet deposit and pet rent will depend on the landlord's risk tolerance, the type of property, the type of pet, and the agreement between the landlord and tenant. A well-written pet addendum can provide clear guidelines for both parties and minimize disputes over the presence of pets in the rental property.
In conclusion, the presence of pets in rental properties is a common and growing trend in the United States, with an estimated 44% of renters owning at least one pet. To ensure a positive living experience for both tenants and landlords, it is important for landlords to have a clear understanding of the laws surrounding emotional support animals and to include comprehensive guidelines regarding pets in their lease agreements. By having a pet addendum in place, landlords can protect themselves from legal liability, avoid unplanned costs, ensure compliance with fair housing laws, and ensure a clear understanding of the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and tenant when it comes to having a pet in the rental unit.
My name is Nick Caucci and I help run the Rentroom blog. Over the years, I have seen and helped many different property managers and owner-operators streamline their daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly workflows.