Animal Guidelines for Tenants and Landlords

Most cities have ordinances limiting the number and types of animals allowed in a residence. Landlords who want to accommodate tenants with pets can avoid misunderstandings by clearly establishing the rules that apply to pets and pet guardians in their properties.

The number one cause of misunderstandings between tenants and landlords over pets is the lack of a written agreement. To avoid this, landlords should:

  • Provide a written agreement for tenants with clearly defined rules including:
    • Whether pets must be kept inside the rental unit
    • Whether dogs must be kept on leash in the common areas inside or outside of a building
    • The number and types of pets allowed
    • Requiring dog waste to be picked up and disposed of in a sanitary manner and cat litter to be discarded in sealed bags
    • The amount of any pet-related security deposit
  • Limit pets to standard domestic animals suited for urban living, such as dogs, cats, rodents, fish and birds
  • Require the names of veterinarians and substitute guardians in the event of an emergency.

Tips for Tenants

  • Provide a pet resume emphasizing traits that make the pet a “good tenant”
    • Include crate and/or obedience training, compliance with local licensing laws and references from former landlords
  • Present clear information on where the animal will be housed during the day or when alone and if professional dog walking or day care services will be used
  • Commit to indoor-only cats to avoid conflicts with neighbors and keep animals safe
  • Submit proof that dogs and cats have been spayed/neutered, which leads to healthier and better behaved pets
  • Pledge to keep pets healthy, free of fleas, groomed and clean
  • Offer signs of good faith such as supporting the San Francisco SPCA or participating in pet-related volunteer activities

Sample documents