Pet ownership is extremely common in the United States. According to recent surveys, some 67% of American households have at least one pet.
That’s approximately 85 million homes! It’s no surprise, then, that a reported 78% of landlords have caught one of their tenants lying about keeping a pet in the property.
If you’re keeping a clandestine furry friend in your rented home, the thought of being found out is mortifying.
Luckily, you usually get advance warning of visits from the landlord, so you can remove your pet from the property and conceal the evidence.
The question, though, is does maintenance report pets in apartments? Do you have to conceal the presence of a pet every time maintenance comes over?
We’ll answer that and more. Let’s get into it!
The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
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Does Maintenance Care About Pets In Apartments?
In most cases, maintenance works for the landlord so you can assume that any obvious lease violations, including the presence of pets, will be reported to the landlord. This is more likely if pets are prohibited across the board, the pet is aggressive, or if there are significant scratches, stains or other damage caused by the pet.
But if pets are allowed on a case by case basis, maintenance workers will usually not know anything about the ins and outs of your lease, and therefore won’t know if you’re allowed to keep pets or not.
That’s especially true if they are one-off contractors.
As mentioned above, you need to be very careful though if there is a blanket ban, or if maintenance lives in the apartment and knows everyone’s situation. If this is the case, and they’re also responsible for property management, they will be obliged to report you if you keep an unauthorized pet in your apartment.
Another surefire way to get reported is if your pet behaves aggressively towards maintenance workers.
Nobody likes being attacked, especially if they’ve got a suspicion that the pet shouldn’t even be in the building.
The best way to work out whether your maintenance team is likely to care about unauthorized pets in apartments is to talk to them, but don’t make it too obvious.
If you find out, for example, that they’re in-house property management as well as maintenance, you’d certainly want to keep your pet concealed.
What Does The Law Say?
Even if your lease prohibits pets, you local laws may say otherwise.
This will depend on local housing laws, and the type of housing involved. If you are not sure whether your local and state laws address this, you will want to find legal resources to help you.
It is important to note that legal right are governed by state and local laws – there is no federal law guaranteeing a renter’s right to keep pets.
What Happens If You’re Caught With An Unauthorized Pet?
I’m afraid it’s not great news if you’re found with an unauthorized pet. The landlord will have the legal right to ask you to remove your pet from the premises.
Of course, if you can’t bear to part with your pet (and most people can’t), that means that you’ll have to move, too.
Either way, that’ll probably be costly and frankly hard work.
You might end up incurring penalties for breaking your lease, need to come to a settlement with your landlord to end the lease early, or sublet it in the meantime.
There are alternatives, but none of them are ideal.
You could, for example, register your pet as an emotional support animal, which you are legally allowed to keep in a rented apartment. We talked about this a bit earlier.
But that’s unwanted hassle, and you’ll have to prove to a doctor that you need an animal for emotional support.
Alternatively, you could offer to pay your landlord more money in order to be allowed to keep the pet in the apartment.
You could either pay a one-off pet fee or deposit, or you could agree to pay a slightly higher monthly rent to compensate for the pet.
Either way, it might be too little too late. Your landlord may be sufficiently upset that you’d lied to them that there’s no way for you to fix the situation.
It’s certainly infinitely more preferable to find an apartment that accepts pets, or to negotiate with a prospective landlord beforehand, than to attempt to conceal pets in a rented apartment.
Your maintenance team might not report you, but there’s every possibility that they will.
If found out, you face possible eviction, or at the very least an awkward conversation with your landlord that might result in a financial outlay for yourself.