Here are two important examples:
1. Pets. Many “standard” lease agreements include provisions concerning pets. Limits on size, breed, number are common examples. These same standard provisions carve out an exception for service animals. To track the law, service animals must be allowed in a “no-pets” property.
So, what’s the problem?
Your lease or leasing policies may mention “trained” service animals, or lay out rules for determining whether the animal is certified as a service animal. And that’s not good enough when it comes to companion, or emotional support animals. It is not required that these animals have any special training. What’s more, a landlord can get into hot water for intimidating a tenant by asking questions about the training their animal has — or hasn’t — received.
Some pet policies and even service animal rules conflict with companion animal laws, so be careful to make the distinction.
2. Nuisance. Tampa is the latest city to pursue anti-nuisance legislation that holds landlords directly liable for actions of tenants. Under the Tampa proposal, landlords would face a $450 each time neighbors or police complain.
These “party house” or “nuisance property” ordinances have moved mainstream. Many provide fines on a daily basis against a landlord when the tenant misbehaves. That means time is of the essence, and landlords need to have the tools to get a problem tenant out of the property quickly, even if the behavior may not breach the lease.
It’s important to review the lease language to make sure there’s no disconnect between what a new, local ordinance requires, and what the “standard” language of the lease holds. Here’s where it’s a good idea to ask for advice from a local attorney — before the meter is running at $450 a day.
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