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What can landlords do to you if you own a pet w/o permission?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
So, let me first say I never would have considered this UNTIL I spoke to my leasing agent.

I emailed her today and told her I needed a letter saying I could have a cat so I could go adopt from the Humane Society. I figured I would need to pay the deposit and resign the lease first (additional $25/month rent for a kitty), and offered to do so.

She responds by just sending me the letter saying I could have a cat, and then says that "I just wanted to let you know that this is my last week here at this apartment complex. I got a promotion and will be moving to other apartment complex in other city. So if you need anything you will have to e-mail other person here or just give the office a call."

Nothing about - contact her once you get the cat to change the lease. Nothing.

My mother thinks it was her way of telling me to just get the cat and not say anymore about it (eg. don't pay deposit or pet rent). And I know people at other complexes owned by this company who were explicitly told "forget it -just pretend you never told me."

I would usually never consider it but it is an extra 300 deposit and 25/month that I wouldn't have to pay - which would really help since I'm a student on a fixed income (more toys for KITTY!).

So I'm wondering - what can a landlord do (I live in California) if you have a pet without it being explicitly on the lease? I'm assuming they would just make me back pay the pet rent/deposit but I don't know.

Anyone on here know if they can do anything worse, eg. make me get rid of it or evict me? There are so many people who don't tell their landlords and this is a huge (1000+ units) complex. So I'm tempted I already gave them $1775 in deposit and pay ridiculous rent...

I'm a good pet owner will keep the kitty indoors and keep the claws clipped so little damage can be done (there's no curtains to be destroyed anyway - just carpet)

What do you guys think? Not worth the risk?
post #2 of 26
Honestly, I would get the cat, and keep the letter.
And if your still worried tell the new landlord when she gets there.
post #3 of 26
I live in a coop and we are not allowed pets. I do have two cats. One was abandoned in a closed box and the other was a feral 4 mo. old kitten. Mgmt. can evict me, & make me pay a $500 fine until I move. I'm ok as long as no noisy neighbor reports me. I've said I'd move before I would give up the cats. They are not destructive. At times I think I should move now and then I think I should wait until I'm pushed out. My rent is so low for a 2 bedroom since its a co-op, not a condo. I've been here 28years. I could never find comparable for the
rent I pay. I'm so undecided. If I were you I would pay the deposit and be up front about the cat. I wish I could. I would pay more that $300 to keep mine legally. Good luck
post #4 of 26
You can get evicted, and have to pay the full deposit and the monthly payment for pets each month you have been a resident... especially if there is a no pet policy. I have snuck pets in before (2 cats at one time) because the deposit was $200 per cat and $35 a month per cat... and there needed to be proof that the cat was front declawed, which I will not do.

At the apartment I am at now there is a policy stating you can have only 1 cat, must be declawed, must be a year old, deposit is $200 (all refundable except $50 for the carpet cleaning) and its only an additional $10 per month. However I told the landlord when I moved in that both my cats had claws and stick to their scratching posts, I also told him one of my cats was only 7 months, and that I had two cats... He decided to let me slide on the rules (the only apartment i could find that would have my clawed cats)... However I just added another kitty to the clan 3 weeks ago, didnt tell my landlord, and I dont plan on it. Im sure he'd consider that I was stepping on his toes by adding another.

I dont recommend this behavior because there are consequences, but that is how Ive done things in the past. I refuse to declaw my cats because many landlords are ignorant...
post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 
Hmm. Ok thanks guys. The eviction thing scares me. I mean if they were just going to make me pay the deposit and back pay the pet rent its no big deal.

I think I'll just pay it. I mean I don't feel like I'd be doing something morally wrong by not paying (frankly I think its pretty wrong to charge more than just a deposit to pay for damages), but I am afraid of getting caught.

I'm gonna keep thinking about it though - it really did seem like the lady was implying I shouldn't contact anyone else now that she's leaving, and other people in complexes owned by the same company have been told to hide it. Plus in a huge complex of so many apartments, I wonder how on earth they would ever catch me.

I'll keep weighing the pros and cons - being homeless would suck...for me and my future kitty.
post #6 of 26
If you have NOTHING in writing from the manager now, then the new manager can make you get rid of the cat/pet since its not written in the lease - or evict you if you don't rehome the pet.

I'd get something in writing or talk to the new managers before you go adopt the cat.
post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenKitty45 View Post
If you have NOTHING in writing from the manager now, then the new manager can make you get rid of the cat/pet since its not written in the lease - or evict you if you don't rehome the pet.

I'd get something in writing or talk to the new managers before you go adopt the cat.
Well getting it in writing isn't the problem. I have that - I have permission to adopt the cat (necessary for the humane society to even let me LOOK at their cats).

Basically the issue is I emailed her and told her I was getting the cat - she gave me the letter which says "such and such tenant has our permission to have a cat. All of our units allow cats and she has informed us of her intention to get one. Once she brings the cat home she will pay a 300 deposit and 25/month pet rent."

I then told her that I would contact her as soon as I got it to change the lease, pay the deposit and give them a picture (they want a pic for some reason).

Instead of her replying: oh well I'm leaving so contact so and so to do that, she simply told me she was leaving and if I need anything in the future to contact so and so. No mention of the process once I adopt the cat.

It was just a weird way for her to respond to me and it sort of seemed like she was telling me to not tell them.

This complex is HUGE and there are 3-4 managers at any given time in the office (I think there are like 6 total) so its not like a completely management turnover. Its just she's the one I always worked with and always contacted.

The issue now is simply do I actually inform one her colleagues and pay their exorbitant fees or do I take her email for what I think it meant and keep my mouth shut. Honestly, I'd be shocked if they every caught me (1000 units - they don't exactly go around checking aparmtents all the time). But if eviction is the likely result I doubt its worth the risk.
post #8 of 26
Well if the complex allows pets and you have written permission, then adopt and just don't say anything unless they check - play innocent on the fees. You can always just say you've recently adopted the cat that week and then won't have to pay back fees.

But you might have to pay the deposit and monthy fees at that time. I'd have the money available either way. Just put it in a separate savings account till you need it.
post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenKitty45 View Post
You can always just say you've recently adopted the cat that week and then won't have to pay back fees.
Yep that sounds like a solution. You have a letter that sais you're allowed to have a cat and that you have to pay the extra as soon as you get the cat so it's probably ok to not tell them right away that you have a cat and if you get caught out just say that you very recently got the cat.
post #10 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Siggav View Post
Yep that sounds like a solution. You have a letter that sais you're allowed to have a cat and that you have to pay the extra as soon as you get the cat so it's probably ok to not tell them right away that you have a cat and if you get caught out just say that you very recently got the cat.
Yeah I think I'll just do that. They'd have to go way out of their way to prove that I had it longer than that if they did catch me.

Plus, I really doubt they'd evict me. Make me pay - sure. But evict me? This place is decent but has a lot of vacancies since its "Low-end" for Newport Beach but the rent is still so high.

They would lose 1775/month by evicting me and my roommate because no way would they refill our apartment right away.

Phew. Thanks guys! You made me feel a little better about it.
post #11 of 26
I think it would be a good idea to have the permission in writing on paper over an actual person's signature. Emails can be easily faked.
post #12 of 26
Do you have a copy of your lease? In my experience, there's usually something in there about unauthorized pets. My leases have generally been that if they find you without a pet, then you pay the pet deposit plus a 100 fee plus 10/day until the pet is gone.

In my current place, I just told them I had a cat. They didn't ask how many and I figured that one the two is so scared of strangers anyway, she'd be nowhere to found if they DID come in!
post #13 of 26
I would get something in writing from your current landlord and then if the new one finds out and has a problem with it, play dumb. Say the last landlord said it fine and show them the letter. Then they will either make you pay a deposit. The possiblity of them evicting you is there but if you have written word from the landlord when you got the cat, you did what you needed to do.

Just check what the copy of your written lease says.
post #14 of 26
Yes, read your lease. Every one I've ever seen says they can make you pay back rent and deposit for the entire time you have lived in the apartment.

That said, I would NEVER recommend that someone risk eviction by not reporting their cat, but your building sounds like my old one. I never paid any extra for Zissou even though we were supposed to, but 3 of the 6 apartments on my hall had 'unauthorized' cats and it was never an issue. The employees would play with her when they came by.

So, use your judgement. The best thing to do would be pay the extra money (I am now, couldn't risk it) but often in places that allow cats but charge extra there is a bit of a gray area.
post #15 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by auchick View Post
Do you have a copy of your lease? In my experience, there's usually something in there about unauthorized pets. My leases have generally been that if they find you without a pet, then you pay the pet deposit plus a 100 fee plus 10/day until the pet is gone.

In my current place, I just told them I had a cat. They didn't ask how many and I figured that one the two is so scared of strangers anyway, she'd be nowhere to found if they DID come in!
Yeah unfortunately the circumstances around signing my lease - it was a huge rush and I had to overnight it while I was getting ready for a camping trip. I completely didn't think of making a copy. I know its just a generic thing that said

Pets: There are _____(she had written in 0) pets allowed in this apartment...and it went on from there. But I don't know what it said.
post #16 of 26
Here is something to think about - if you do not report your cats, what happens if you have a maintenance issue or management decides to come into your apartment for a check-up such as testing the smoke alarms or checking the A/C filters? Of course they would need your permission to enter the apt if you are not home but sometimes it is not always convenient to be at home and wait for them. If the maintenance guys accidentally let your kitties out or something happens to the kitties, how do you hold the management liable without the documentation?

I've been in your situation when I was living in apartments and ended up paying the extra fee and deposit because I didn't want the hassle if anything were to happen. I do agree that the extra pet rent is a rip off...but it's not worth the risk of being evicted and ruining your credit.

Also, you can always call the office to request a copy of your lease.
post #17 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by teetee View Post
Here is something to think about - if you do not report your cats, what happens if you have a maintenance issue or management decides to come into your apartment for a check-up such as testing the smoke alarms or checking the A/C filters? Of course they would need your permission to enter the apt if you are not home but sometimes it is not always convenient to be at home and wait for them. If the maintenance guys accidentally let your kitties out or something happens to the kitties, how do you hold the management liable without the documentation?

I've been in your situation when I was living in apartments and ended up paying the extra fee and deposit because I didn't want the hassle if anything were to happen. I do agree that the extra pet rent is a rip off...but it's not worth the risk of being evicted and ruining your credit.

Also, you can always call the office to request a copy of your lease.
Yeah, I thought of that - but they have to give me advanced notice to do anything like that. Then depending on what the maintenance is I can lock him/her in one of the bedrooms for the day. Or even just take him/her somewhere else that day so its not in my apartment at all.

Yeah I don't want the eviction, backpaying wouldn't be a big deal.

Thanks for all the opinions guys - its definitely giving me something to think about.
post #18 of 26
I would also recommend checking to see if they require the cat is declawed. Just about every place I've lived with a management company requires it. You can get around declawing a kitten by adopting an adult who is already declawed.

Our current apartment requires 2 different deposits for pets (1 refundable, 1 nonrefundable). Plus extra deposits for animals under 1 years old. Declawed and fixed required and proof from the vet's office. And they charge monthly pet rent. If you're dealing with a management company you want to make sure you're all ok with the rules. The place I live is pretty strict, maintenance will turn people in to the office.

Good luck.
post #19 of 26
I wouldn't rely on an email. I'd want an actual pen signed document. Even the email says once you have the cat, you will pay the deposit, monthly pet rent etc. So I don't think she was giving you the message just to get the cat and not update the lease at all. It sounds pretty clear that once you get the cat you are expected to go in, pay the deposit and update the lease. When new management comes in, and if they have a copy of that email, then you may have some serious problems. Yes, they can evict you because you will have broken your lease. And/Or they could make you pay the deposit and any retroactive pet rent etc. If back paying isn't a big deal, why not just pay it up front and take care of it the legal way? Then you wouldn't have to worry about it all the time.

Management doesn't have to give you advanced notice if they have an emergency. All it would take is backed up main plumbing, flooding from another apartment or any number of things and it doesn't even have to originate in your apartment.

Here is some information I found for California tenants from the following site: http://fairhousingoc.org/landlord.html#q22 (It's an Orange County legal service but still explains rights and responsibilities for the state of California.)

Q. Can a landlord or manager enter a tenant's rental unit?
A. In cases of emergency or tenant abandonment or surrender, a landlord or manager may enter a rental unit without notice. Otherwise, a landlord may enter a unit only after giving reasonable written notice for a valid reason. A valid reason would be to make a needed or agreed upon repair or alteration; to show the unit to prospective buyers, tenants, contractors, lenders or repair workers; to provide agreed upon services; to conduct an inspection related to a tenant's security deposit, prior to their move-out; or pursuant to a court order. A landlord may NOT enter a rental unit simply to inspect, even if the rental agreement allows for it.
Noticed entry should be during normal business hours, unless the tenant consents. The right of entry shall not be abused by the landlord or used to harass a tenant. Reasonable notice has been deemed by the courts to be 24-hour notice. The notice should be personally delivered, left with someone at the premises of suitable age and discretion, or left at, near or under the usual entry door where it is likely to be discovered. It can be mailed, but the landlord should allow 6 days between mailing and entry. There is an exception that allows oral notice of entry during the sale of a property provided certain procedures are followed.
post #20 of 26
I was going to offer some advice since I've been in your situation, but everyone here seems to have covered everything.

Have something in writing.
Play stupid with new management.


That's about it.
post #21 of 26
Disclaimer: I am writing this response with out reading the other.

I suspect they could probably evict you. That said, I've been at the same apartment complex (2 different units) for almost 3 years with 2 cats. My leasing office is only aware of one cat. My thought is, if they ask about the second cat, I can say that I'm just pet sitting for a friend. Of course, maintnance has been in since I've had two cats and some of the guys have seen and even petted BOTH my cats and I've never heard anything from the leasing office about it. I think most places have bigger things to worry about than someone having a cat.
post #22 of 26
I haven't totally read this thread, but I just want to say that I know two people who were evicted for having a pet. In both cases, someone actually reported them to the landlord. There are busybodies everywhere, so it definitely could happen.
post #23 of 26
From past experience with leases, read throughout the lease. Most sections of the legal document have an article in there pertaining to pets in general. This part is the reflective of what the apartment complex's rules and regs concerning pets (i.e. dogs must be on a leash, etc).

Most places I have lived will only make you pay back the extra pet fee before they will evict you. The only time they will evict is if you fail to pay the back rent for the pet. However, like others have said either claim you just got the cat...even if its 4 months later.
post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaniMarie View Post
I was going to offer some advice since I've been in your situation, but everyone here seems to have covered everything.

Have something in writing.
Play stupid with new management.


That's about it.
post #25 of 26
My apartment building (400+) units advertises that it is cat-friendly in all of its ads and its website. The lease states that no animals are allowed without prior written permission. Fast forward to the day of my home visit with the volunteer from the local shelter...I go downstairs to the leasing office and tell them I need to pay my pet deposit and get written permission to get a cat (for me, not the shelter - I had already provided them with the cat-friendly literature/advertisements - as far as they were concerned, I needed to show proof of paying the pet deposit). None of the leasing agents/desk people could give me a straight answer on what this "prior written permission" was, and they couldn't give me anything in writiing verifying that I am, indeed, allowed to have a cat. They gave me a receipt for the pet deposit, and it lives with Lucy's other documentation. I asked if I needed to do anything else, or if one of the leasing agents would contact me for more info (I know I was shown some sort of "application" when I inquired about cats when I signed the lease), and she said they would follow up with me after seeing I had paid a pet deposit. Nothing yet. I also asked about ferrets before I signed the lease, and basically, the leasing agent rolled his eyes and implied I should just shut up about it. I have repeatedly inquired about ferrets since moving in (with my ferret), and received no real response. I find it hard to believe in a 10-story, 400+ unit apartment building that no one else has "caged pets", so I have decided to just ignore it. If it ever comes down to it, I will simply appeal to the actual property management company and offer to pay the same deposit required for cats, plus the pet rent for all of the months I have been here. They can evict me, and that's not okay, but I'll accept it. I still know that my cat + ferret are not allowed to cause any damage to the property, so I will plead my case, but I will also accept whatever legal remedies they seek. It would put me in the poorhouse, but I'm not going to pretend I didn't sign a lease stating no animals are allowed without prior written consent. Do I think the leasing office could have done a better job? Yes. However, I signed a contract, and I will accept any consequences of my "illicit" actions.

To be quite honest, I am not worried about pleading my case with the property management company. The worst they can do is evict me and charge me a ton of money. I'll pay it. I won't like it, but I'll pay. That's not to say I'm rich or anything, but I thought of all this before I moved in here. If you are in a position to be financially ruined by any of the above, think long and hard before getting in over your head.
post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by JenC511 View Post
I have repeatedly inquired about ferrets since moving in (with my ferret), and received no real response. I find it hard to believe in a 10-story, 400+ unit apartment building that no one else has "caged pets", so I have decided to just ignore it. If it ever comes down to it, I will simply appeal to the actual property management company and offer to pay the same deposit required for cats, plus the pet rent for all of the months I have been here. They can evict me, and that's not okay, but I'll accept it. I still know that my cat + ferret are not allowed to cause any damage to the property, so I will plead my case, but I will also accept whatever legal remedies they seek. It would put me in the poorhouse, but I'm not going to pretend I didn't sign a lease stating no animals are allowed without prior written consent. Do I think the leasing office could have done a better job? Yes. However, I signed a contract, and I will accept any consequences of my "illicit" actions.

To be quite honest, I am not worried about pleading my case with the property management company. The worst they can do is evict me and charge me a ton of money. I'll pay it. I won't like it, but I'll pay. That's not to say I'm rich or anything, but I thought of all this before I moved in here. If you are in a position to be financially ruined by any of the above, think long and hard before getting in over your head.
IN MANY juristictions ... caged animals are not considered PETS but a hobby animal and thus are exempt from PET rules... Look up your local codes
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