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Novice Landlord: Do you Evict a good tenant over a Cat?

Updated on April 7, 2014

All door knobs tore off

Source

Eviction for having a Cat?

Yes, it is a cruel world when you have been a great tenant based on the definition that you have paid on time, the house is reasonably clean and organized, the yard is mowed. You as a tenant have not reported any problems or done anything to draw attention to yourself. As a landlord we love to get good tenants and it really is tough to evict a tenant who has displayed all of the characteristics of good tenancy except one.

Imagine my complete surprise recently when having been called to one of my rental units to check a vent pipe for the roofing crew, I entered the home to be greeted by one of the friendliest fluffiest gray and white cats I have ever seen. This guy was beautiful and he came complete with a litter box by the washer, food bowl, water bowl, and an assortment of cat toys. All I could think about as I verified the vent for the roofing crew on top of the house was "no pets," I was very clear on the tenant interview, no pets! I tell every tenant during the interview that I have a no tolerance no pet policy. No exceptions.

What makes this hard is that I as a landlord interviewed the tenant's mother with the tenant and her young daughter and remember how the mother assured me that her daughter would not break any rules, there was discussion about how hard it was to find a safe neighborhood for the little grand baby to play in the yard that was also close to work and most importantly close to mom. I liked the mother and I believed there was every intent to follow those rules by mom. When my new tenant initialed by lease rule #13 (yep the no pets policy is number 13 and all that it implies) I received not only a written confirmation that she understood that there was to be no pets but she re stated it back and said there would not be a problem with pets.

So here I am having to be the bad guy over a cat that even I would love. The problem is no matter how much I like this tenant or think her little girl is adorable or sympathize with her as a single working mom, she broke the rule. The first thought of every landlord in a situation where their objectivity has clearly been compromised by being overly sympathetic to the tenant's situation is that maybe you could overlook it this once, I mean how bad could it be? It can be BAD.


Do you make an exception or evict?

Clearly landlord's are often faced with having to make a decision that is not comfortable for them as this situation is clearly uncomfortable for me. I had to step away from the unit and take a more objective role by considering the liability to me the landlord and the premeditated decision that was clearly made by the tenant. I have to set aside my obvious emotional side and look at this situation from a business point of view.

Taking a purely business look at the situation I determined the following:

1. Rule 13 No Pets Allowed inside the rental unit was initialed and signed in agreement between the tenant and myself. This rule was clearly violated.

2. The tenant had previously been late one time on her rental payment and without any reminder from the landlord enclosed the late fee illustrating that she not only understood her lease but was familiar with other penalties in place within the lease.

3. The lease addendum clearly states immediate eviction will occur if the No Pets rule is violated. This addendum was signed and dated the same day as the lease and witnessed by her mother.

4. The cost of having a professional carpet cleaning company come in to this unit and replacing the trim work that had been used as a scratching post was going to be expensive.

5. This cat was not a kitten, the tenant had this cat before she moved in and was not truthful than nor now.

So, I left the property after leaving the proper notice that I the landlord had been inside the home for a repair issue associated with the replacement of the roof and I traveled to the local law enforcement office where I paid the $25.00 for the eviction notice to be served.


A pet will end a good relationship.

So here I am on a Sunday night waiting for Monday which will herald the arrival of an eviction notice to a tenant that was almost a good tenant. The love me love my dog (or cat in this case) is not applicable in real life. It just doesn't work that way. When you as a tenant sign a lease that has an immediate eviction clause for violating the no pets rule you need to understand that the landlord can and will evict you for breaking that rule. Yes the landlord has the ability to waive the rule, but at what cost? This is why being a landlord is not for the faint at heart. If I let this tenant slide on the no pets rule, what rule will I have to let her slide on next month? She stops mowing the yard or having trash service, than what? What about the cost that is associated with having a pet inside the home. The carpets now have to all be shampooed, trim work has to be replaced, two blinds are damaged in the living room. Where do you draw the line?

Well, you draw the line with the lease. Having a good clear lease is important and it establishes your business operation and the rules that are to be followed by both you and the tenant. Being a landlord is a business and you have to make your decisions based on the business of the unit not the fact that you have empathy for the tenant's situation. Take photos of the pet in question and the various pet products clearly evident. Document the damage, follow the process for eviction and get an immediate estimate for repair of all damages. You may get a favorable judgment to help offset some of the costs associated with the violation.

In this situation I not only have my photos but the presence of the roofing crew who also saw the cat inside the home and my immediate response with the eviction notice as soon as I became aware there was a violation. So now I have to wait and let the eviction process play out all because of a cat. The downfall of this relationship was not the infamous other woman it was a big friendly gray white long haired cat.

So at the end of the day the answer to the title question is Yes, you evict. You as a landlord have put your time, money, and energy into providing a nice home for someone to enjoy as they go thru life. The rules are simple and clearly stated. And it is not an accident that the "no Pets rule is number 13." Pets are bad luck for me the landlord because of the damage and cleanup. Pets are bad luck for the tenant because they will be evicted, immediately.

So, novice landlords, you are witnessing a moment that is very much currently going on for this landlord. Will it end well, I don't know. Evictions are always tough but they are a part of the process just like the cleanup. On a good note, I do have a very smashing new roof that should take this unit thru the next 25 years of its life. Good luck novice landlords.

Result from Cat Eviction

Having served eviction papers, the tenant decided to do a little revenge damage. About 1594.00 worth of revenge was reeked upon myself as I have had to replace every doorknob interior and exterior, they stole all of the blinds, curtains, curtain rods, took 5 of the screens out of the windows which now have to be custom ordered at 45.00 each, cut the linoleum and the hardwood floors, and crayoned all of the walls. So for all of those readers who had a moment of sympathy for the tenant, this tenant is not the angel of tenants. As a landlord I have completed the eviction process, working on repairing this unit back to a better status than it was left and going to go to small claims court. And as a side note, had to call a plumber in on this unit, apparently a washcloth was jammed down into the pipe soaked in some type of glue requiring the pipe to be cut out and replaced.

Heads up Novice Landlords look for the unexpected traps that are always left by an angry tenant. Good luck.


I usually don't respond to comments but I have to say that I respect the perspective of those who have been extremely upset that I evicted a single mom. As a writer, I did deliberately leave a few details out of this situation that would have cast a less than angelic shadow over the tenant. However, that is not the purpose of this series of articles. When you embark onto the journey of Land Lord- you will often find yourself extending deadlines, giving more time to catch up the rent, taking less of a deposit than you should and so much more to lend a helping hand as much as possible. We all do it. However, the purpose of the Novice Landlord articles is to focus on the Business of being a Landlord. Know that every repair has a cost associated with it and if you are going to have a nice home available for rent you have to focus on the Business of the rental. These articles are intended to help you learn to avoid some of the situations that myself and my friends who are landlords have already learned from. Every situation and tenant is a little different.

Nice rentals will attract nice tenants. As for the single mom in the above scenario, well she was a single mom by definition but daddy (while not married) was living in the home with her and his daughter, she signed four different places on the lease that she would not have any pets and stated her daughter was allergic to cats, and well, the animal control officer rounded up 6 cats from her stay....there is much more that goes into this but it doesn't negate the business of establish a policy and enforce it. Would I evict this tenant again, YES, only sooner.

So for those who are pinning my articles to the wall and target practicing with my photo, I say quite simply, become a Landlord and soon you will be evicting too. You will find that if you want to make it in the Landlord business and not go bankrupt, you will have to have a few rules for your tenants to follow. So come on, join the Landlord club. And keep writing comments, good or bad I welcome your perspective.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Hillary 3 months ago

      All landlords are parasites. You don't "put your time, money, and energy into providing a nice home for someone" ---the renters provide the home for THEMSELVES and pay you a profit, otherwise you wouldn't do it. Whatever the mortgage is o nyour properties, the tenants are taking care of that and paying you extra to "go through YOUR life". Seriously, you are the scum of society.

    • profile image

      Justmememe 9 months ago

      Our first rental, my husband and I wanted to be "nice" landlords, and made the mistake of letting our tenants slide, on quite a few things. We were also traveling for our jobs at the time and as long as they paid the rent, never really checked up on them either.

      Not only did we end up having to evict them, but by the time we got them out, they caused so much damage, the property was no longer salvageable, and we ended up literally having to have it bulldozed to the ground! They caused so much intentional damage vindictively, we took them back to court, and ended up with a $20,000+ legal settlement, that we are still collecting on, and will be garnishing their wages for years to come!

      As a direct result, we are now far more selective about who we rent to, perform extensive background checks and require a minimum credit score of 700. We had an attorney draft a lease for us, and now we strictly enforce every single term!

      That said, we actually do allow pets, but mainly because we're only renting out stand-alone homes. We charge a $500 pet deposit, limit to 2 small, nonagressive breeds, subject to meeting and approving each pet -- to help ensure they don't pose a danger to neighbors and others, and we check on them, every 2-3 months. Any pet damage the tenant is require to repair within 30 days.

      We don't rent cheap properties anymore. No carpet or mini blinds! To attract great tenants, our rentals are now outfitted with real wood blinds, expensive hardwood flooring, and brand new kitchens with granite counters.

      Of course, to pay for all that, and we've substantially increased rents. More than tripled, and have no problem getting it either.

    • profile image

      Mitsu 10 months ago

      Lol. This guy, so it's your right to have kids, but when they cause a ton of noise and damage; it's all okay.

      Yeah, I'm prone to migraines, I should have my right to be Noise free.

      Guy above me, you are just so sour. No extra people because you're the only one allowed to make money.

      Your so salty. Also... Allergies... it's one thing to have to around the cat. But unless you're allergies are so acute that you can smell a cat through several doors, thatS BS.

    • profile image

      Me, me, me 16 months ago

      Ugh yes we all have rights, but as a landlord you and the tenant sign an agreement of what is allowed and what is not. As a landlord an agreement is made so that everyone can live comfortably. You are not the only tenant living in the building. There are other families living there as well. My agreements state No pets, No parties, No alcohol drinking outside premises, No babysitting, No mechanic work, Each person not mentioned in the agreement is $800.00 per person per month.

      No pets... Other tenants have allergies

      No parties... might lose good tenants due to noise

      No alcohol outside... obnoxious, other tenants children do not need to exposed to this..

      No babysitting... more children more noise, again don't want to lose good tenants.

      800.00 for extra person..... tenant making money by charging extra roommate.

      All Im trying to do is have a place where everyone has a safe, quite and without allergies.

      So to those tenants who complain about wanting rights don't forget other have their rights too!! Don't be sneaky be considerate of other tenants. There are places that accept pets.

      Im a landlord allergic to cats. (I should have the right to be allergy free)

      I own a apartment building and a duplex. Im more lenient with duplex tenants because its only two families as to building with multiple families.

      In my duplex I have a good tenant that has lived there more than 17 years, she is now in her 80's and wants a dog. Even though she signed a No pet agreement, I told her ok as long as it was a small dog.

    • profile image

      player one 19 months ago

      While I have feelings and opinions on both sides in this debate, if the author wishes to keep to "business", please let me point out that:

      1. In business, relationships trump rules. Every contract may be modified with appropriate negotiation, and people are generally even more understanding with additional payments if they know they are already on the flimsy side of the argument. The tenant would very likely have been amicable to higher rent or pet deposits to cover the potential "damages", and it's very unlikely that a tenant for which you openly and clearly "let things slide" by way of communicative negotiation would have inflicted such revenge damages upon leaving... in fact, they'd be more likely to "let slide" any of your landlord responsibilities that you might come up late on fixing in the future.

      2. If, as a landlord, you are miffed about replacing carpet and miniblinds and this is why you enforce "no pets"... Why the !@#%^ do you think carpet and miniblinds are a good idea? Quit outfitting your property with such easy-to-destroy junk and then blaming your tenants when it degrades so easily. Does *your* house have that crap in it? Do your tenants *want* that crap? It's far less costly to install decent durable flooring ONCE than to shampoo and reinstall carpet all the time.

      3. In most states, you are expected to be replacing the replaceables after "normal wear and tear" every 2-3 years anyway. That's the miniblinds, carpet, and paint. So you're looking at potentially adding the trim to that bill --- which should have been covered by the tenant's security and damage deposits, which (as mentioned previously), could easily have been renegotiated instead of skipping straight to eviction. Are you under the impression that the tenant would be there for less than 3 years?

      Business has risk. Risk is mitigated by planning, budgeting, and good human relationships, not by tyrannical enforcement.

    • profile image

      TruthSayer 21 months ago

      One thing is clear from this article.

      The landlord is a terrible business person.

      You ended a profitable business relationship over a cat? Only an idiot would do such a thing.

      This landlord goes on and on about frayed carpeting. Really? How much would it cost to replace every square inch of carpet? Likely not as much as your property sitting empty.

      I could comment on the ethics or morals of said landlord, but why. Karma came back and bit them.

      Were you expecting anything less than your tenants purposely destroying your property? They were model tenants who paid rent on time and kept the premises in clean and working order. Who cares that they had a cat. Now you're stuck with a huge repair bill and a property that is empty. Good job!

      Just shows how many stupid people exist in this world.

    • profile image

      dave wells 22 months ago

      everyone has a right to pet companionship landlords must give waythey can be bullies and folk MUST hit them back hard

    • profile image

      Neith 2 years ago

      I'm not going to tell you that what you did was heartless, cruel or rotten. I won't tell you that you deserved the collateral damage either. I will say, however, that your true nature wasn't hidden behind your thinly veiled contempt for this woman. No, this is much deeper. You can spill your guilt on the internet all you please...but I can assure you, it won't change the path you have chosen in life. You see, you did this because you believe that each and every one of us is alone in the universe, fighting for our lives. Life is actually a dynamic illusion. We're all part of the same quantum field. Nothing is separate, everything is connected. The universe is just a big soup of molecules slamming into one another. The shapes we see exist only in our own consciousness. We're all part of the same maelstrom, in which you are the lord of nothing...and you will truly pay for your vindictive actions.

    • profile image

      ahankins100 3 years ago

      Thank you Understanding, Choy, Abbey- I do appreciate the support

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      Understanding 3 years ago

      As a landlord, you did what you needed to do. If one party doesn't understand that rules are in place to protect everyone then they will suffer the consequences. If the tenant really wanted to they could have tried to debate the clause before even signing the contract.

      It's sad to hear that in the end you got to see get true side: rotten. She treated you like you were sending her off to jail, which you weren't. Like you said it's not power hunger on your side because she would just keep asking you to slide more and more if you slipped on that one rule.

    • profile image

      Choy 3 years ago

      It serves you right that she did all that damage.

      Oh no she broke a rule, your feelings were hurt.

      I hope your next 5 tenants do the same exact thing.

    • profile image

      Abbey 3 years ago

      Ms Hankins,

      How could you possibly trust someone with your property who has shown you such flagrant disrespect? You do not owe anyone a place to live. You're not running a charity. Renting a home is a voluntary transaction for BOTH involved parties, so stand your ground. Don't be discouraged by the socialists posting here.

      Rules are rubbish if they're not going to be enforced. Thank you for being a woman of your word.

    • profile image

      georgia 3 years ago

      Dear Cruella

      What you did was heartless, shame on you. I think your decision was based on power and authority sans compassion. Perhaps your power was usurped and you felt the need to validate it by evicting a good person whose itent was to care for a cat. Was the cat causing damage to your property? There are so many homeless pets, you just added to their demise.

    • profile image

      rdm4k 3 years ago

      try to be a little bit elastic sir.

      I understand the rule ect, but you will private yourself of a good tenant and cause her trouble for an issue which may be solved very easily as expressed by PersonWithASoul.

      Try to understand that a pet is not an object and how hard is to find any good accommodation at the moment, sort out/explain the pet to someone who is not pet friendly is a very hard job.

      Good luck and re.think

    • ahankins100 profile image
      Author

      Alodia Hankins 3 years ago from Mt. View, AR

      Hi PersonWithASoul,

      I appreciate your comments. While I do focus on the business of being a Landlord in my articles that is the purpose of the series. It is intended to help other Landlords become better at the job of Landlord. And while it seems that I have unjustly evicted a "single Mom" over a cat- I purposely left out additional details that would have made even you evict this tenant. I often give my tenants in my writing a much more positive spin than they really are in real life. Because I want the readers to think about the terms of the lease they have offered as landlords or the lease they have signed as tenants. I want to challenge tenants to become better tenants and develop better communication with their landlords- and vice versa.--it is a team effort that allows both sides to become winners. But rules have to be established, agreed upon, and most importantly followed.

      And while I appreciate your offer regarding the declawing that doesn't solve the pet urine everywhere which resulted in the carpet being replaced, the 6 cats that animal control had to re-home, or the fact that this tenant stated her daughter was allergic to cats and needed an animal free home to rent. Yes PersonWithaSoul, it is true, one of the criteria in my rentals is that I keep them clean so that individuals with respiratory illnesses (I have two such tenants) who cannot find a home free of animal or smoke contaminants often come to me. I have a third disability tenant with special criteria on a waiting list right now for one of my units...So yes I evicted a technically single mom for falsifying information, failing to pay rent, allowing one 30 lb male cat and 6 female cats to urinate everywhere, scratch and tear up all of the door facings, the carpet, and curtains/screens- and her undisclosed baby daddy, and daughter from my rental. The final cost to repair and replace everything has been quite large. Lets just say her security deposit for all of the cats would have to start at$5,000. She moved into a home that was pet and smoke free, clean, well kept and made it almost impossible for another tenant to be there. So if given the choice- I will take a tenant suffering from Cancer, COPD, or other illness or respiratory challenged ailment over the above tenant ......any day of the week. I have 3 tenants who could not live in any other rental in the area they are at because of their illness...

      My article wasn't just about the cat- it was about the property as a whole as it functions as a home not just for one tenant but for every tenant that comes thru the front door. I am truly sorry PersonWithASoul, but in order to truly understand, you would have to become a landlord.....Good luck and I thank you for your response.

    • profile image

      PersonWithASoul 3 years ago

      Nice you evicted a single mom from her house over a cat. You obviously wanted to evict the tenant as soon as you saw the cat because you were butt hurt they broke a term in your lease. You spend a good deal of the article talking about how you rationalized how you could put this lady on the street and not be an asshole giving the "Its just business" logic. You could have asked the lady to pay a higher security deposit and get the cat declawed. Instead of working with her and not losing any money you made a real mess for yourself because you had to be a big man whose rules are unbendable. Nice Job!