Can my landlord make me get rid of my cats?

I have received a letter from my landlord telling me to remove my cats from the premises. The landlord stated that because their litter box was a little dirty that I am failing to comply with the lease and keep the place clean. This is the first problem with the cats that the landlord has ever mentioned in the 6 months I have lived here. The lease had stated that we could have 2 cats but it also said that the landlord reserves the right to revoke consent to have pets. I was wondering if there is any way I could possibly keep my cats and my apartment?

Asked on October 17, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You have to look to the lease. If the lease states that the landlord can revoke consent to have cats, that would imply that even if he/she has no good reason or even if the cats have not caused problems, he or she can tell you to get rid of them--and if you don't you'd be in breach of the lease and therefore could potentially be evicted. This clause or paragraph is critical, since it could itself mean that you are only allowed to have cats so long as the landlord lets you. Also, if  there is a  housekeeping or hygiene or cleanliness requirement in the lease and you violate it, that could also provide grounds for eviction--though in that case, if you keep the premises sufficiently clean (i.e. don't violate whatever the requirements or standards are) you should be able to have the cats.

Since the language of the contract or lease is what controls here, you should bring it to an attorney to review with you, so you can understand exactly what your and your landlord's rights are.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.