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"Understanding Tenant's Rights: The Ins and Outs of Keeping Pets in Texas Rental Properties"

Updated: Jun 26


Living in Houston with a dog
Happy pet owner . happy dog

Pets are often considered part of the family, and for many, finding a rental that accepts pets is crucial. In the state of Texas, tenant's rights regarding pets are influenced by lease agreements and Texas tenant laws. If you're a pet owner looking for a rental in Texas or renting with pets, it's important to understand these rights and regulations. Houston metro has 952,400 or 36% have at least one dog in their home . Houston ranks fourth among metros for dog ownership and 1 in 5 households owning one or more feline companions


In this article, we'll delve into what you need to know about tenant's rights concerning pets in Texas, how lease agreements come into play, and what to do if a dispute arises.


Understanding Lease Agreements and Pet Policies

Before signing a lease, it's essential to understand that the lease agreement is the primary document outlining your rights as a tenant, including those related to pet ownership.


Reviewing Pet Clauses in the Lease

When considering a rental property, review the lease agreement's pet policy carefully. This section should clearly state whether pets are allowed, any restrictions on the number or type of pets, and if there are additional fees or deposits required.


Deposits and Additional Fees

Many landlords in Texas require a pet deposit, which may be refundable or non-refundable. Additionally, pet rent is a monthly fee some landlords charge for the privilege of keeping a pet on the premises. Ensure these fees are reasonable and compare them with other properties in the area.


Restrictions and Prohibitions

Some Texas landlords may have restrictions on breeds, sizes, or types of pets. It's crucial to know if your pet falls under any of these restrictions to avoid potential issues after moving in.


Tenant's Rights Regarding Pets in Texas

Tenants in Texas have certain rights when it comes to keeping pets in their rental units. However, these rights are subject to the terms of the lease agreement and local ordinances.


Right to Reasonable Accommodation for Service and Assistance Animals

Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), individuals with disabilities have the right to keep service or assistance animals in their rental units, regardless of the property's pet policy. Landlords must provide reasonable accommodation for these animals without charging extra fees or deposits.


No-Pet Policies and Exceptions

While landlords can enforce no-pet policies, they must make exceptions for service and assistance animals. However, emotional support animals may not be covered under the ADA, and their acceptance is at the discretion of the landlord if there is a no-pet policy.


Dealing with Disputes Over Pets

Even with clear lease agreements, disputes can arise between tenants and landlords regarding pets. Here's how to handle such situations.


Communication with the Landlord

If you're facing a dispute over your pet, the first step is to communicate with your landlord. Try to understand their concerns and explain your situation. It's often possible to reach a mutual agreement without escalating the issue.


Seeking Legal Advice

When communication fails or if you believe your rights are being violated, seeking legal advice from a professional knowledgeable in Texas tenant laws is advisable. They can help you understand your rights and guide you through the process of resolving the dispute.


Mediation and Legal Action

Mediation is an option that allows both parties to come to an agreement with the help of a neutral third party. If mediation doesn't resolve the issue, legal action may be necessary, and a court will determine the outcome based on the lease agreement and Texas law.


Best Practices for Tenants with Pets

To avoid potential disputes and ensure a harmonious relationship with your landlord, consider these best practices.


Be a Responsible Pet Owner

Show that you're a responsible pet owner by keeping your pet well-behaved, up-to-date on vaccinations, and adhering to community rules regarding pets.


Document Everything

Keep a copy of your lease agreement and any correspondence with your landlord regarding your pet. Documentation can be crucial in the event of a dispute.


Consider Pet Insurance

Pet insurance can cover damages your pet might cause, providing peace of mind for both you and your landlord.


Follow the Lease Agreement

Always follow the terms of your lease agreement regarding pets. If you wish to make any changes, such as getting a new pet, discuss it with your landlord first and get any agreements in writing.


Preparing to Rent with Pets in Texas

If you're planning to rent with pets in Texas, preparation is key. Here are some steps to take:


Research Pet-Friendly Rentals

Focus your search on properties that are advertised as pet-friendly to increase your chances of finding a suitable home for you and your pet.


Read the Lease Agreement Thoroughly

Before signing, read the lease agreement carefully, paying special attention to the pet policy. Ensure you understand all the terms and conditions.


Discuss Your Pet with Potential Landlords

Be upfront with potential landlords about your pet. Provide references from previous landlords if possible, and consider creating a "pet resume" that includes your pet's information and behavior history.


Be Ready to Pay Extra

Be financially prepared to pay additional pet deposits or pet rent if required by the landlord.


Conclusion

Tenant's rights regarding pets in Texas are largely defined by the lease agreement and the laws that protect individuals with disabilities requiring service or assistance animals. As a pet owner, it's important to be informed, responsible, and prepared when renting in Texas. By understanding your rights, communicating with your landlord, and following the lease terms, you can enjoy a happy and stress-free rental experience with your furry friend.

Remember to always consult with legal professionals if you're unsure about your rights or if you encounter any issues related to your pet in your rental situation. With the right approach, you and your pet can find the perfect rental home in Texas.

 

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