Can a landlord say no dogs after you have moved in?

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Can a landlord say no dogs after you have moved in?

We have been renting from the same landlord for 2 years. When we first moved into the house she said that we could bring our bigger dog with us as long as she stayed outside. She has and still is staying outside but her son is our neighbor and he got majorly intoxicated and killed a puppy from our dogs litter. We were not happy about it and told her about her son’s behavior and now she is saying to get rid of all our dogs or she’ll take us to court. Can she do that even though lease has been up 3 months after we moved in and there isn’t anything on the lease stating that we couldn’t have any animals?

Asked on August 2, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Leases have to be honored by both parties. If the lease doesn't say anything either way about dogs, the normal assumption would be that they are allowed, which would be buttressed by the fact that you've been allowed to have them for 2 years--that shows that the intention of the lease was that you could have the dogs. If your dog had attacked someone else, the landlord would probably have good grounds to make you get rid of it, but not if your dog was the victim. As long as you have obeyed all other lease terms, not disturbed neighbors, paid rent on time, not damaged the premises, etc., you should be on good grounds. Note though the following:

1) If the dog is bothering other tenants (disturbing their "quiet enjoyment"), the landlord may have grounds to make you get rid of them--and this can be a difficult thing to disprove, if the landlord and other tenants  (e.g. the son) are prepared to say that it is.

2) When your lease term is up, the landlord can change the lease to include a no dogs term going forward, or simply refuse to re-rent to you.


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