How To Tell If Your Tenant Has A Pet Against The Lease.

Spencer Sutton here with gkhouses. And today, I want to talk about how to tell if your tenant has a pet again the lease.

We get asked about pets all the time when we are talking with a new owner. One of the first questions we ask them is whether or not they plan on allowing pets. Typically, people have a strong opinion one way or the other. Every once in a while we get people that don’t really have an opinion, and so they ask us what we think.

My first thought is if you want to increase the amount prospective tenants who will rent your house, then most definitely allow pets. People are passionate about their pets, and when you say, “No pets in my property,” you are eliminating at least half of your prospects.

Regardless,  if you are a homeowner and you decide not to allow pets, the question is how do you tell if your tenant is hiding a pet?

I had to ask myself this question with one of my first rentals. This was probably in 2005 or 2006. We had a really nice house that we spent a lot of time rehabbing. I was worried about someone bringing in a giant dog that would not have any control over shedding, etc.

Now I love dogs. I’ve had Labrador Retrievers all my life, and I have one now with my family. Although, because of the rehab we just finished, I decided no dogs allowed.

We found a tenant, screened them, and then roughly six months of them being in the house I went to pay a visit and check in on things. I went and knocked on the door and around the corner came five or six little little dogs, barking their heads off. They ran up to the window and just continued to bark at me. I waited, but no one came to the door. I knew I had a problem.

After the family was evicted, I went back to the house to do an inspection. The floors were destroyed, and we had to spend money and time refinishing them.

So how can you tell if a tenant is keeping pets in your home?

Point number one

One of the first things you can do is just drive by the property. This does not require you to notify the tenant that you are coming by the house. While doing the drive-by examine the outside, the backyard, and pretty much anything else you can see.

If you have a fenced-in yard, you can look and see if there is any kind of dog supplies or anything like that. This could be a dog house, bowls, dog food, etc. If you find any of these items, it probably means they have a dog or some type of pet there.

Point number two

depending on where you live, there’s probably some type of law that says you need to give a certain amount of notice before you come in the house. So what we do is set up a quarterly inspection with the tenants. This allows us to go in the house, change air filters, check batteries, and do a preliminary look around the house. We take pictures and upload them into a PDF to send to the owner.

Having some type of quarterly schedule will allow you to get inside the house and look a little bit closer. Now you may think, “Well, if they know I’m coming, they can go and hide the pet.” This is a good point, but there will always be signs of a pet in the house. Signs such as dog hair or a stray toy. The biggest sign that many tenants don’t think about is the smell. A lot of the time the smell of pets will give it away, especially if you are not used to having pets.

You need to decide how to react if there are signs of a pet. Are you going to evict for the breach of contract, or are you going to allow them to keep their pets and charge them a pet fee?

We charge a one-time fee of $300 for a pet. They do not get this back because it is not considered a deposit. It is a pet fee per pet. We pass $250 of that on to the owner. This tactic seems to work well for us.

Regardless of your decision we encourage having the conversation with the tenant and seeing what their response it. From that you can act accordingly.

This is just a heads-up on how you can tell if your tenant is hiding a pet.

I hope this helps. If you have any further questions about pets don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

You can check us out at gkhouses.com or email me directly, ssutton@gkhouses.com.

I’m happy to help. Thanks so much.