Pet ownership is great for animals and people. Your pet will always be happy to see you when you come home. And you always have someone to hang out with while you watch TV or take a walk. But when you rent, becoming a pet parent can be tricky.
If your lease doesn't allow pets, it might seem like sneaking in a furry friend might be worth the risk, especially when the landlord hardly ever stops by, right? However, keeping a pet without your landlord's approval can lead to serious problems.
In some cases, your landlord may fine you if you sneak in a pet without approval. Fines are generally per pet. And while some landlords might charge a set amount, others can attempt to charge you for every day the pet lives in your rental.
In order for your landlord to charge you, details about any possible pet-related fines must be covered in your lease. If your landlord asks for an amount not detailed in the lease, you may be able to file a case in civil court to recoup your costs, but the court doesn't have the legal right to allow you to keep the pet.
If your lease has a no-pet clause and you get a pet, your landlord will have the legal right to ask you to remove the animal from the property. If you want to keep your pet, you'll have to move. To move during your lease, you'll have to break the lease and pay hefty penalties, sublet your rental, or work out an arrangement with your landlord to end the agreement early.
Most landlords are willing to work with their tenants, even if you do break the lease, but some landlords won't. If you're caught sneaking in a pet, your landlord may have the right to evict you.
If you're evicted, your landlord may sue you for the remainder of your lease payment. Recovering from an eviction may be difficult. Any future landlords can learn about your eviction history, and that may make renting again a tough proposition.
Adding a pet the right way
Sneaking in a pet is tempting, but there is a better, more direct route: Just ask your landlord. Many landlords are happy to allow pets, especially if you've been a good tenant in the past.
If your landlord agrees, make sure to get the deal in writing. Ask your landlord to add a pet clause to your lease listing the breed and weight of your pet as well as any deposits you paid or pet rent due to cover animal damages.