The Pet Addendum: What It Is & How to Write One

Learn how to navigate pet addendums, from determining whether to include one, how to write one, and how to stay legally compliant.

By
Noemie Peou
|
Last Updated
October 4, 2023
The Pet Addendum: What It Is & How to Write One

Not everyone has pets, but for those who do, their furry (or scaly) friends are a big part of their lives. As a property owner, having rules in place for how to navigate renting to pet owners is crucial, now more than ever: pet ownership doubled between 2020 and 2022, in large part due to COVID causing people to stay home and have more time to care for a pet as a result. 

Establishing guidelines upfront for pet owners renting a property relieves a property owner of some pet-related stress and allows renters to enter their lease knowing what's expected of them. A pet addendum does exactly that -- it's designed to address both parties' rights and responsibilities regarding pets in a rental property.

As a property owner, while your personal biases may sway you to want to permit pets if you love them or prohibit them if you don't, there are social, financial, and legal factors to consider when deciding what to include in a lease agreement. This comprehensive guide will explore a pet addendum, why it's essential, and how it can promote a harmonious relationship between tenants and landlords.

What is a pet addendum?

To start, let's define what exactly a pet addendum is. A pet addendum, sometimes called a pet agreement or pet addendum to a lease agreement, is a legally binding document that serves as an extension or supplement to a standard lease or rental agreement. This document outlines the terms and conditions for a tenant to keep pets on a rented property. It also allows landlords to name any prohibited animals they believe would threaten their rental property and tenants. It outlines specific rules, responsibilities, and obligations related to pet ownership within the confines of the rental property. 

A pet addendum's primary purpose is to clarify and establish expectations for both landlords and tenants regarding pet ownership within the rental property. It helps prevent conflicts by clearly defining the rights and responsibilities of each party concerning pets. Additionally, it can protect landlords from potential pet damage to the home or liability issues related to animals on the premises.

Creating a pet addendum

When it comes to a pet agreement, both the landlord and tenant must agree to the terms and sign the document for it to be legally binding. Once they do, both parties have their responsibilities to uphold.

Who creates the pet addendum?

Determining whether a pet owner is allowed to rent a property is generally determined solely by the owner, so the power is in the landlord's hands when setting pet restrictions and creating the pet addendum. However, the tenant can accept or deny the conditions, and thus the lease agreement, set forth by a property owner, so it's pivotal that the pet addendum is fair not to deter otherwise interested renters. 

Allowing pets: Is it a legal obligation?

Barring emotional support animals, landlords have the legal right to allow or refuse pets on their property. This decision is at the discretion of the landlord's personal preferences on the matter, but market conditions should always be considered. For example, if you've chosen not to allow animals and your property has remained vacant for several months, you might consider whether your pet restrictions have deterred potential tenants.

When should you create a pet addendum?

While we advise writing a pet agreement ahead of time that can be presented to the tenant at the same time as the lease agreement, we recognize that that's not always possible.

For example, if a tenant chooses to adopt a pet part of the way through their lease, they should inform the landlord in advance. Once notified, the landlord will provide the tenant with a pet agreement form, which must be signed so the tenant can bring their animal onto the property. This form will then officially become part of the lease agreement.

What is the purpose of a pet addendum?

As a property owner, having a pet addendum prepared and at your disposal is strongly encouraged. While generally not legally required, a pet addendum benefits both landlords and tenants in the following ways:

  • Clarity: A pet addendum clarifies the rules and expectations regarding pet ownership, leaving less room for misunderstandings and reducing the potential for tenant-landlord disputes. 
  • Property maintenance: Landlords can use pet addendums to establish guidelines for pet-related property maintenance, such as cleaning up after pets and ensuring that pets don’t cause damage to the property.
  • Legal Protection: Pet addendums often include clauses that address liability, which can protect landlords from legal issues related to pet-related incidents on the property.
  • Tenant satisfaction: A clear pet addendum can help owners feel comfortable and confident about having their pets in a rental property, as the tenant will understand their rights and responsibilities. In turn, this will help prevent high tenant turnover.
  • Legal compliance: A well-crafted pet addendum ensures compliance with local, state, and federal laws, mitigating legal risks.
  • Point of reference: A good pet addendum will answer any potential questions about pet ownership that a tenant may have, reducing the amount that a tenant will have to reach out, as they’ll always be able to refer back to their copy of the pet addendum when they need clarity on their responsibilities as a pet owner and renter. 

Pet lease addendum vs. pet addendum to rental agreement

While the terms "pet lease addendum" and "pet addendum to rental agreement" are often used interchangeably, there is a subtle difference between the two:

Pet lease addendum

This term typically refers to a separate document signed simultaneously as the lease or rental agreement. It is an independent contract that outlines pet-related terms and conditions.

Pet addendum to the rental agreement

This term suggests that the pet-related clauses are incorporated into the rental agreement rather than as a separate document. In this case, the rental agreement itself serves as the pet addendum.

For landlords, choosing between these two options may vary depending on their state's laws and personal preferences. 

Navigating legal requirements

Much like traditional leases, pet addendums must comply with local, state, and federal laws governing rental agreements and pet ownership. These laws can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another, so research your rights and responsibilities as a landlord within your area. Certain types of housing, such as public housing, also have specific regulations.

For example, some states have specific regulations regarding deposits, fees, and pet rent, while others may have breed-specific legislation restricting certain pet types. Failure to comply with these laws can have legal repercussions, so we recommend consulting with legal professionals or property management experts when drafting a pet addendum -- it's always better to be safe than sorry.

How to write a pet addendum: A step-by-step guide

Now that we've covered why pet addendums are necessary, do you want to know how to write one? We're one step ahead of you. Here's what you'll need to do:

1. Consult local laws

The first step is to familiarize yourself with local, state, and federal laws related to pet ownership in rental properties. This will inform what you choose to include in your pet addendum and ensure you're legally compliant.

2. Determine specific terms

Decide the terms and conditions you want to include in the pet addendum. This may have rules on the type and number of pets allowed, maintenance responsibilities, or any pet-related payments, such as a pet deposit, pet fee, or pet rent.

3. Create a clear document

Draft the pet addendum using concise language. Avoid complicated legal jargon -- writing a document that’s easy to understand will allow tenants to follow the rules laid out without ambiguity. 

4. Include all relevant details

Be thorough in describing the kinds of pets allowed on the property. Include the pet's breed, age, and required vaccinations.

5. Specify rules and obligations

Clearly outline the rules and responsibilities of both the tenant and landlord regarding pet ownership. This should cover pet waste cleanup, noise control, and property maintenance.

6. Define consequences

Clearly state the consequences of violating the pet addendum. This may include fines, deductions from the security deposit, or even eviction.

7. Sign and date

Both the landlord and tenant need to sign and date the pet addendum. Keep a copy for your records.

Key elements of a pet addendum

A well-crafted pet addendum should contain specific details and clauses that cater to the unique needs of the rental unit and the pets involved. Here are some key elements commonly found in pet addendums:

Pet description: This section typically includes details about the pet, such as its type, breed, name, and any relevant registration or certification information.

Number of pets: Specifies the number of pets allowed in the rental unit. Some landlords may restrict the number of pets, while others may not.

Pet deposits and fees: Outlines any additional deposits or fees required for pet ownership. This may include a pet security deposit or a monthly pet rent.

Pet-related rules: Details the rules and regulations regarding pet ownership on the property, such as leash requirements, noise restrictions, and pet waste cleanup.

Property damage: Addresses how property damage caused by pets will be handled, including repair costs and deductions from the security deposit.

Insurance requirements: Some pet addendums may require tenants to obtain liability insurance to cover potential pet-related incidents.

Termination clause: Specifies the consequences of violating the pet addendum, which may include eviction if the tenant fails to comply with the pet-related rules.

Emotional support animals

Service and emotional support animals, such as service dogs, are typically not subject to the same pet rules and fees as regular pets. They are protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and landlords cannot discriminate against tenants with physical or emotional disabilities who require a service animal. However, landlords may still request documentation to verify the need for such animals.

What if you don't have a pet addendum?

Although a landlord could forgo a pet addendum form if they chose to, the potential negative repercussions outweigh the positives. Not having a pet addendum in place can lead to potential problems for both landlords and tenants, such as:

Property damage: Without a pet addendum, landlords may have limited recourse if a tenant's pet causes damage to the rental unit. This could result in repair costs not covered by a security deposit.

Conflict resolution: Without clear pet-related rules, disputes between tenants and landlords regarding pet ownership and behavior may escalate, potentially leading to legal action.

Liability issues: Landlords may be at risk of legal liability if a pet-related incident occurs on the property, such as pet bites or injuries to another tenant or visitor.

Tenant dissatisfaction: Tenants with pets may feel uncertain about their rights and responsibilities, leading to dissatisfaction with their rental experience.

Noise and disruption: Pets not subject to clear rules may cause disturbances and inconvenience to other tenants on the property.

Legal compliance: Landlords may inadvertently violate local or state laws regarding pet ownership in rental properties, which can lead to legal consequences.

The bottom line on a pet addendum to the lease agreement

As more and more people choose to own pets, it's increasingly essential that landlords have an up-to-date pet addendum form at their disposal. Setting terms and conditions in advance will allow you to address pet ownership with potential tenants quickly and clearly. While writing a thought-out pet addendum backed by research into laws and regulations may sound daunting, it's well worth the effort. With the help of this guide, you'll have a pet agreement form you feel good about written in a flash. 

Pet addendum to rental agreement FAQs

Can a tenant be evicted for violating a pet addendum?

Yes, a tenant can be evicted if they violate the terms of a pet addendum. This may include not adhering to pet-related rules, causing property damage, or failing to pay pet-related fees.

Can a landlord change the terms of a pet addendum after it's been signed?

Once a pet addendum has been signed and is part of the lease agreement, it generally cannot be unilaterally changed by the landlord without the tenant's consent. Any changes to the addendum should be negotiated and agreed upon by both parties.

What happens if a rental property does not have a pet addendum?

Not having a pet addendum can lead to property damage disputes, conflicts between tenants and landlords, and potential legal issues. Both parties should consider the benefits of a pet addendum when pets are part of the rental arrangement.

Can a tenant dispute a pet addendum if they believe it is unfair or unreasonable?

Tenants can discuss concerns about a pet addendum with their landlords and seek to negotiate changes if they believe it is unfair or unreasonable. However, it's essential to remember that landlords have the right to set reasonable pet-related rules and requirements.

Noemie Peou

Noémie, a Penn State English graduate, is an editor, writer, and social media expert. With experience at a literacy nonprofit and credit-building startup before Azibo, she has French-Cambodian heritage and is based in Philadelphia. Outside of work, she enjoys sewing, curating niche Spotify playlists, and feng shui-ing her apartment.

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