Can an apartment management suddenly change policy, if it is not listed in the lease?

I ask because our apartment complex has a new management company, the current manager of the apartment complex has decided to change the policy on animals saying that dogs cannot be bigger than 20 lbs. When we moved into the complex we paid an animal deposit and also made the complex aware of the size of our dog, which is 32 lbs, only 10 lbs over the new weight system. The manager sent a letter to us saying we have 24 hours to get rid of our dog. We read over the lease contract and it says nothing about the weight of the dog. Can they make us get rid of the dog or can we fight this?

Asked on October 22, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Texas


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The apartment complex can change its policy on animals even though the policy is not listed in the lease that you signed for the unit you are occupying. However, sentiment is that the change in policy can only be for new tenants that have not entered into a lease for a unit in the complex and cannot be retroactive as to tenants who already have animals exceeding twenty (20) pounds.

The rationale for this opinion is that tenants such as you entered into the lease for rentals and now have animals exceeding the new policy as to weight. Nothing in your lease precludes the weight restriction now attempted to be implemented.

I recommend that you and other tenants similarly situated consult with an attorney experienced in landlord tenant law.

Good luck.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A lease is a contract: it's terms and conditions bind *both* parties. Neither party may unilaterally change or add conditions to the lease in the middle of the lease term. If under the existing lease, you have the right to have your dog, then you can have it--the management company may not change the lease in regards to animals, unless and only to the extent that there was some specific reservation of authority or right to do so in the lease itself. From what you right, it would seem that they cannot legally make you get rid of the dog now--thought nothing will stop them from putting new in terms and conditions regarding animals after the expiration of this lease, into the next one.

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