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Can I raise the monthly rent on a Section 8 tenant who just bought a dog?

Van Nuys, CA |

The apartment is rent controlled in the city of Van Nuys, and the tenant is a Section 8 tenant. They recently have brought a dog into the unit, and I would like to know if we are allowed to raise the monthly rent. If so, how much are we allowed to raise the rent? The pet clause in their rental contract states that: Tenant shall not bring, keep or maintain any pet, water filled furniture or musical instruments on the Premises, unless designated in Section N. Under Section N in their contract, it states 0 pets/water beds. Also, since they are Section 8 tenants, do I have to give them a 60 day notice for them to pay for the dog or is this something that does not require an extended period of time allowable as with many Section 8 requests.

Thank you

Thank you for answering. The tenants did not have a dog before this one and it is not a "service" dog. It is just a pet. Can we accept money from the tenant themselves, rather than Section 8, if the tenant offers to pay for the dog? Also, if eviction is our option, are we entitled to a 3 day notice and regular eviction afforded to any tenant due to just cause, or are we required to give the 60 or 90 days notice per Section 8 rules? Thank You

Attorney Answers 2


I am not admitted to practice in California, I do not know whether your tenant formerly had a dog, whether your city or state have "pet laws" and I am not certain whether Section 8 "voucher" leases work the same way they do in New York City. You did not mention whether any member of the tenant's household was disabled or if this was a "service" dog.
Generally, the total rent does not change during the effective period of Section 8 leases. This is true regardless of whether an extra person moves in, or even a dog. Thus, you would not be able to legally increase the rent if the tenants took in a dog. Further, I would be surprised if Section 8 would give a "pet" increase when it comes time to renew the lease.
It sounds as though you are more concerned with collecting a rent increase than protecting your apartment from dog odors, etc. However, the tenant's actions appear to violate your lease. This provides you with a basis to evict them in court after giving them a chance to "cure" the violation. In some jurisdictions with a "pet law," such as New York City, the landlord must seek eviction within a reasonable time after learning about the pet, or else give up the right to do so later.
Local rent control laws may result in a similar "waiver" if action is not taken quickly.
The language and delivery of these notices can be tricky. You should consult with a lawyer in your jurisdiction about the procedure for enforcing the "no pet" provisions of your lease.

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I agree with my colleague. The bottom line is that, from what you post, they are breaking the lease, so you will need to decide how you want to handle it. I would imagine though that if the housing authority found out that the tenant was paying you under the table for the dog, both of you could be in trouble. You should consult a local attorney who is familiar with Section 8 housing for guidance.

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