What’s up, everybody? Matthew Whitaker back with another question Denver owners ask property managers. Today’s question is, “My tenant has a pet, against the lease in my Denver rental home. What should I do?”
This is one of our most popular videos. In other markets is, “Hey, I’ve got a dog. They’ve got a cat.
They’ve sworn in the lease that they don’t have one. They’ve got a dog or a cat against the lease.” Now, this whole video is going to assume that this is not a service animal or some sort of compassion-type animal.
So, I’m going to assume that this is just straight up a pet. So, please listen to this with that caveat.
The first thing is you need to verify that there really is a pet there. There are times that a pet may come over to their house.
It’s still a violation of the lease, but it’d be really hard to terminate a lease or evict somebody based on their neighbor or their friend bringing their cat over to the house.
But you need to make sure and verify that there is an animal. And I would say with pictures, if at all possible.
I know this is hard. I know it feels like creeping on them. You may have to do it by submitting a notice and walking through the house.
This is one of the hardest things to do is to prove that there truly is a consistent pet in the property.
So, you know, obviously, abide by landlord-tenant law notices when you’re doing this.
But you’ve got to figure out a way to prove it because if, for some reason, you show up at court and the tenant says, “I don’t have a dog. I don’t have a cat.
And I don’t even know what this crazy person is talking about,” and the judge says, “Well, do you have any proof?” you want to be able to come up with that if it gets to that point.
The next thing I would say is…and, generally, this is super helpful, is just submit a notice. I would say make it a friendly notice the first time.
Now, if you’ve had other problems with this tenant, you may want to send the nastygram, so to speak.
But the first thing I would say is to give the tenant the benefit of the doubt.
Let’s try to see if that dog, that cat was there for some other reason. Let’s just put them on notice that we noticed, right?
Hey, we want them to know that we’re on top of things, that we’re watching.
Not in a creepy watching way, but it’s important. We’re managing this house.
We want to make sure that that dog or that cat is not in the house, not showing in the house. So, the first time, maybe a nice one.
Now, if you feel like you need to send them a nastygram, this is where you need to make sure you’re abiding by Colorado landlord-tenant law because you’re starting to get into a process that if you don’t follow certain rules, it’s hard to unwind it.
So, if you do send them a nastygram, I would make sure the nastygram is in accordance with Colorado landlord-tenant law, that it says, “Hey, you need to cure this material defect in the lease.
And if you don’t do it,” and keep in mind, I’m not an attorney so you would probably want to consult your attorney before you do this, “but if you don’t cure this default in the lease, then we’re going to terminate the lease and essentially evict you.”
Then, really, even maybe before you do that, the third thing I would say is you need to decide if, is this something you’re willing to evict over?
Is this something you just want them to do? So, this becomes all a little bit of a cat and mouse game.
Like, if I’m not willing to evict them, I may not even be willing to send them the nastygram or I may not even be willing to send them a nice letter because what am I going to do?
I would hate to show them a history of me saying, “You need to do this,” they don’t do it and then I don’t do anything about it.
So, you probably need to make that decision upfront even maybe before the notice.
But if you are willing to terminate the lease, again, I urge you to either read the Colorado landlord-tenant law or hiring an attorney to help you do that because there is a set process that you have to go through to get the tenant out.
If not, you could talk them into submitting a pet deposit, submitting a pet fee, or even submitting a fine.
Some leases and you would need to do this in the beginning before you sign a lease, some leases actually have a fine that they charge the tenant in the event they find a pet there.
So, all of these are stuff to think about. I may have raised more questions than answers, but these are, at least you’re starting to ask the right questions with regard to a pet in the home.
I’m Matthew Whitaker. Thanks so much for watching. I’m with gkhouses.
Matthew is the CEO of Evernest. He is a student of the book Good to Great and is passionate about building the best property management company on the planet (and maybe even the universe if Elon Musk will hurry up). You can usually find Matthew at the baseball field with his son, at a dance recital with his daughter, or at his favorite restaurant with his wife, when he’s not in the office. And if you can’t find him in any of those places, it probably means he’s traveling.