Legal Question in Landlord & Tenant Law in Virginia

Pets on Rental Property

I own a single family home in virginia. I just rented it out to a couple who told me that they had pets. In the lease I allow one dog only. After they moved in, I saw that they have four pit pulls in a kennel in the back yard. I would prefer not to evict them due to the hassle of that process. Can I be held liable if their dogs are aggressive? I am afraid that if I make them get rid of three of the dogs, then they might not take care of my house! Should I just let the dogs stay as long as they remain in the kennel? They told me that the dogs stay in the kennels all the time. I was very specific about not allowing them in the house for obvious reasons. (I have wood floors and they would be destroyed) Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Asked on 10/03/07, 9:34 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Michael Hendrickson Law Office Michael E. Hendrickson

Re: Pets on Rental Property

Why not amend the lease with a rider which would include a surcharge for the

unauthorized dogs and specific conditions as to how these dogs are to be maintained on and with respect to your property? (Pit bull dogs have by now nearly acquired almost automatic recognition as inherently dangerous animals. One elderly lady was mauled to death by one or more of them in Stafford County about two years ago and the owner is now serving time in the state penitentiary for negligent homicide.)

However, whatever you do, do not succumb to fear and intimidation and allow these renters "to be the boss" of your property.

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Answered on 10/03/07, 9:45 am

James McKinnon McKinnon & Associates, PLC

Re: Pets on Rental Property

You might want to do an addendum to the lease that clarifies the situation. In other words, state that the dogs are not allowed in the house, that they should be kept in the kennel unless they are leashed and that the tenants agree to indemnify and hold you harmless for any damage caused by the dogs.

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Answered on 10/03/07, 12:05 pm

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