What If My Landlord Starts Prohibiting Pets?

Anyone who loves dogs may not love them so much when they're barking next door. With thin walls and little or no space for pets to run, renting with pets - especially in an apartment - isn't easy. And landlords who do allow them typically tag on an extra "pet deposit" for the extra wear and tear.

If your lease allows for a dog, and the landlord decides mid-lease to start prohibiting dogs, you can still legally keep your pet because rental terms can't be changed mid-lease. But...But...the landlord can change the lease terms when it expires, when either you or the dog will have to go.

However, the landlord can't ban dogs that are service animals and help a blind, deaf or physically or mentally disabled tenant.

Other than that, pet owners aren't entitled to the anti-discrimination protections that are given to members of legally protected groups defined by characteristics such as race, religion, sex, ethnic origin or disability, according to a Nolo.com story.

Some apartments allow small dogs. But if your small, young dog is getting bigger, then you could be evicted.

If you can't change your landlord's mind and plan on moving out, then be sure to ask the manager to terminate the lease. Bring your lease to the office and ask the manager to write "Terminated" on it, date it and have everyone sign. This is now your proof that you weren't evicted, which will be proof to your next potential landlord.

You can try to bargain with the landlord who prohibits dogs, although many refuse to make special deals with tenants because they fear the tenants who don't get such deals will complain and could succeed with a complaint of being illegally discriminatory.

Still, it's worth a try if you want to have a dog in your apartment. Offer to pay a little more in rent for having a well-trained dog. And be sure to pick up after Spot's messes when walking him around the apartment complex or the neighborhood.

Aaron Crowe has lived in at least five rental units in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reach him at www.AaronCrowe.net
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