What to do about tenants who have a dog breed that our insurer won’t cover?

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What to do about tenants who have a dog breed that our insurer won’t cover?

We are closing escrow on a rental. There are tenants in place and we knewthat we would have to deal with giving notice, raising rents, etc. However, when we were given estoppel certificates they listed a month-to-month tenancy but no mention of pets. We knew they had dogs but just found out today that the dog is a pitbull and our insurance will not cover the home with this breed, nor will it give us liability insurance. We had planned on giving these tenants 2 months notice to vacate or an increase in rent. Now what do we do? What can we do legally? We were told that we are obligated to give them 2 months notice but we do not have to allow the dog.

Asked on January 12, 2013 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If there is a written lease for a definite period of time, then unless the tenants give you good cause to terminate the tenancy--such as violating a no dogs policy in the lease, if any; not paying rent; recklessly or deliberately damaging the  property--you cannot evict them until the term of their lease  is over (assuming it is not renewed). Someone who buys a rental unit buys it subject to--that is, is bound by--all existing leases. Therefore, you may not be able to get rid of these tenants.

Also: until you close, you can't do anything. Until you close, you are not  the owner and have no rights to the property. Therefore, even if there would be grounds to evict, you can't do anything about it until after the closing--though the current owner could take any legal action.

If there is a lease for a definite period and it includes terms favorable to you--such as no pets, or no dogs of this kind; or allows you to terminate the tenancy on  proper notice--then after you have closed, you can enforce those terms.

If there is a written month-to-month lease or an oral lease (which creates a month to month tenancy), then after closing, you should be able to  provide 30 days notice terminating the tenancy, and then evict if they don't leave. (Or alternately, 30 days notice terminating the current tenancy, then offer a new tenancy under different terms, such as higher rent, no dog, etc.)

You may need to look for a different insurer to cover you so you can close. Suggestion: contact a the American Kennel Association or some recognized association for pit bull breeders or afficionados--they may be able to suggest insurers who will cover the breed.


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