Lifting 'no pets' policy backfires

Rent it Right

Q: Six months into my tenant’s one-year lease, which specified "no pets," she got a dog. She assured me it was housebroken, so I said she could keep it. Then I discovered that the dog had urinated all over the carpet. I had it cleaned, and the tenant assured me the behavior would stop. But her approach is to keep the dog crated all day, sometimes 14 hours at a stretch. The dog has to be miserable and I suspect there will be damage to the flooring due to the poor animal’s inability to hold it. I think this is cruel treatment and I want nothing of it on my property. Can I enforce the original "no pets" clause now? Do I have grounds to terminate the lease, which has three months left? –Maria L.

A: Your experience holds a lot of lessons for other landlords. First, savvy landlords will demand more than a pet owner’s rosy description of a pet’s behavior before they sign a lease. These landlords will take the time and trouble to screen a pet, by talking to past landlords and the pet’s vet.