What rights to landlords have regarding pets not claimed on the lease?

UPDATED: Aug 23, 2011

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What rights to landlords have regarding pets not claimed on the lease?

Can they evict all tenants or just the one harboring the pet (even if it’s against the other tenants’ wishes, but said tenants cannot remove the pet for other legal reasons)? Pets include/tanked pets like fish and reptiles.

Asked on August 23, 2011 West Virginia


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If your written lease specifically excludes pets with the rented unit and your tenants signed the lease containing this provision they technically "breached" the lease but this "breach" in and of itself does not appear to be a material "breach" warranting the termination of the lease.

Under the laws of this country, even though an agreement may be violated or breached, not every violation or breach warrants the agreement's termination.

The circumstances that you write about do not suggest any eviction of any of the tenants. What the circumstances warrant is a meeting with you and the tenants to come up with a solution to any and all of your concerns about the pets not claimed on the lease. The solution could be a written addendum to the lease and tenants pay an increased security deposit for having them, an agreement that the pets would be removed in a short time period, or some other mutually agreead upon solution by you and the tenants to the situation.

At the very least, you need to write the tenants a letter advising them of their violation of your lease and that you expect no further violations after you and they discuss the problem thoroughly. Keep a copy of the letter for future reference.

Good luck.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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.

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