How to handle landlord/tenant disputes over companion animals

MY LANDLORD HATES MY DOG!

ALDF Suggests: How to handle landlord/tenant disputes over companion animals Problems with landlords, property management, or homeowners associations that say you must remove your companion animal are not uncommon. First and foremost, check to be sure that you are legally allowed to have a companion animal in your housing situation before bringing an animal home to live with you.

If you live in an apartment or housing situation that does not allow companion animals, work to change these rules by educating the management or housing authority. There are certain situations in which it is legal to have a companion animal even when there is a “no pet” policy. For an in-depth exploration of major legal issues relating to companion animals and housing, see “No Pets Allowed: Housing Issues and Companion Animals” (PDF) by Professor Rebecca J. Huss.

Additional case law can be found here.

If your landlord wants you and your companion animals to leave, your first step should be to talk with your landlord. Try to work out a compromise. If that doesn’t improve matters, try settling the conflict through a community mediation service (look under “mediation” in the telephone directory) or a local landlord or tenant association. If there’s just no talking to your landlord, property manager, or homeowners association, seek the counsel of an attorney.

Going to court should be your last resort, but when all else fails, fight for your animal’s right to live with you. For a full discussion of your legal rights and responsibilities as the guardian of a companion animal, an excellent resource book is “Every Dog’s Legal Guide: A Must-Have Book for Your Owners,” by Mary Randolph. Written for non-lawyers, it’s a helpful book on a variety of legal issues relating to canine companions. It’s available for purchase or to browse on Nolo.com.

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