Pets And Leases: Navigating ‘No Pet’ Clauses and Emotional Support Animals

Leasing a property comes with a multitude of considerations, and for many individuals, the question of accommodating pets can be a significant factor. Finding a harmonious balance between ‘No Pet’ clauses and the rights of tenants with Emotional Support Animals (ESA) is essential for fostering a fair and accommodating rental environment. 

While landlords have the right to protect their properties, tenants with legitimate emotional support needs are afforded legal protections. Consult with a reputable real estate attorney to learn more about your legal rights regarding ESA. 

Understanding ‘No Pet’ Clauses

Most lease agreements include a ‘No Pet’ clause as a standard provision. This clause prohibits tenants from having pets on the premises without explicit permission from the landlord. Violating this clause can lead to consequences, including fines or eviction.

From a landlord’s standpoint, ‘No Pet’ clauses are often in place to maintain the property’s condition, prevent disturbances, and manage potential liability. Landlords may be concerned about damage, noise, or allergic reactions among other tenants.

Legal Protections Afforded to Emotional Support Animals

Emotional Support Animals, prescribed by a licensed mental health professional, fall under a different category than traditional pets. Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), tenants with ESAs are afforded certain rights, and landlords are required to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities.

Tenants seeking accommodation for an ESA must make a formal request to their landlord. This includes providing documentation from a qualified mental health professional that verifies the need for an emotional support animal due to a mental health disability. 

Landlords are obligated to make reasonable accommodations for ESAs, even in properties with ‘No Pet’ clauses. However, the accommodation must be deemed reasonable and not pose an undue burden on the property. Open and respectful communication between landlords and tenants is important. 

The key factor in accommodating ESAs is reasonableness. Landlords can evaluate factors such as the size and breed of the animal, potential property damage, and the impact on other tenants when determining the reasonableness of the accommodation.

For tenants with ESAs, thorough documentation is essential. This includes a letter from a licensed mental health professional detailing the need for an emotional support animal. Your landlord may review this documentation and make decisions based on its legitimacy.

When Can Landlords Refuse Emotional Support Animals?

Landlords are generally obligated to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities, including those who require ESAs, under the Fair Housing Act. However, there are certain circumstances in which landlords may be permitted to refuse accommodation for ESAs:

  • Undue Financial Burden: If accommodating an emotional support animal would impose an undue financial burden on the landlord, they may be exempt from the requirement. However, the burden must be significant and not merely an inconvenience.
  • Fundamental Alteration of Property: Landlords may refuse accommodation if allowing the emotional support animal would fundamentally alter the nature of the property. This could include situations where the presence of the animal poses a direct threat to the safety or health of others.
  • Insurance Restrictions: Some landlords may face insurance restrictions that could impact their ability to accommodate certain types or breeds of animals. If accommodating a specific animal would result in the violation of insurance policies, landlords may have grounds for refusal.
  • Multiple ESAs: While tenants are generally entitled to have one emotional support animal, landlords may have the right to refuse accommodation for multiple animals if it would create an undue burden or fundamentally alter the nature of the property.
  • Unreasonable Disturbance or Damage: If an emotional support animal causes significant damage to the property or creates an unreasonable disturbance, landlords may be able to refuse accommodation. However, this should be based on specific incidents and not assumptions about the behavior of all animals.
  • Incomplete or Fraudulent Documentation: Landlords have the right to request proper documentation supporting the need for an emotional support animal. If tenants fail to provide legitimate and complete documentation from a qualified mental health professional, landlords may refuse accommodation.
  • Inappropriate Species or Size: If accommodating a particular species or size of animal would be unreasonable for the property, landlords may be able to refuse accommodation. For example, accommodating a large or exotic animal in a small apartment might be deemed impractical.

What to Do If Your Landlord Denies Your Request for an Emotional Support Animal?

Initiate a conversation with your landlord to discuss your request for an ESA. Share your documentation and explain how the animal is necessary for your well-being. Try to address any concerns your landlord may have, such as potential property damage or disturbances.

If your landlord has specific concerns or requirements, consider providing additional information to address those concerns. This may include information about the animal’s behavior, training, and any insurance coverage you may have.

If your landlord rejects your request for an ESA and you believe you are entitled to accommodation under the Fair Housing Act, you should consider consulting with an attorney who specializes in fair housing laws. An attorney can provide legal advice, assess the specifics of your case, and guide you on the best course of action. 

Our Skilled Real Estate Attorneys are Ready to Help You

The seasoned attorneys at Johannesmeyer & Sawyer, PLLC, specialize in real estate law, bringing vast knowledge and experience to work through complex transactions, contracts, and disputes. Our lawyers can conduct thorough reviews, identify potential risks, and pursue effective risk mitigation strategies, providing you with confidence in your property dealings. To set up your free consultation, call 803-396-3800 or reach us online.

Signing a Real Estate Contract

The Dos and Don’ts of Signing a Real Estate Contract

Signing a real estate contract is a significant step in the home buying or selling process. It’s a legally binding document that outlines the terms and conditions of the transaction. You should be aware of the do’s and don’ts when entering into a contract to ensure a smooth and successful real estate deal. To stay compliant with the law and avoid any mistakes that could put you at a serious disadvantage, it’s best to consult with an experienced real estate attorney before signing the contract.

Things to Do Before Signing a Real Estate Contract 

Read and Understand the Contract Thoroughly

Before signing any real estate contract, take the time to read it thoroughly. You should completely understand the terms, conditions, and obligations outlined in the document. If there is any part you don’t understand, speak with a real estate professional or legal advisor to obtain clarity.

Include Contingencies

Contingencies provide a way to back out of the deal without legal repercussions if certain conditions are not met. Common contingencies include home inspections, financing, and appraisals. You can get an exit strategy if issues arise by including these in your contract.

Get Everything in Writing

Verbal agreements can be easily misunderstood or forgotten. You should make sure that all aspects of the deal, including any negotiations or changes, are documented in writing within the contract. This helps prevent disputes and provides a clear reference point.

Consult with Professionals

Real estate transactions can be complex, involving legal and financial challenges. It’s recommended to consult with professionals such as real estate agents, attorneys, and financial advisors. They can provide guidance and ensure that your interests are protected.

Be Prepared for Closing Costs

Closing costs are part of any real estate transaction and include fees for various services. You need to be aware of these costs upfront and factor them into your budget. You can help avoid last-minute surprises by knowing what to expect.

Things to Watch Out for Before Signing a Real Estate Contract 

Don’t Rush the Process

Real estate transactions require careful consideration. Avoid rushing into signing a contract without thoroughly understanding its implications. You should take the time to review all terms and conditions to make informed decisions.

Don’t Waive Important Contingencies

While it might be tempting to streamline the process by waiving contingencies, doing so can expose you to significant risks. Home inspections, financing, and appraisal contingencies provide essential protections, so think twice before waiving them.

Don’t Neglect Due Diligence

You may want to perform due diligence on the property before signing the contract. This includes researching the neighborhood, property history, and any potential issues. Ignoring due diligence may lead to unpleasant surprises after the deal is done.

Don’t Overextend Your Budget

It’s critical to set a realistic budget and stick to it. Avoid the temptation to overspend, as this could lead to financial strain down the line. You need to be mindful of your financial limits and ensure the contract aligns with your budget.

Don’t Sign Without Legal Advice

Real estate contracts are legally binding documents with significant consequences. You should obtain legal advice to ensure that you fully understand your rights and obligations. A real estate attorney can provide valuable insights and help protect your interests.

Conditions You Must Have in Your Real Estate Contract

  • Identification of Parties: Clearly specify the names and contact information of the buyer(s) and seller(s) involved in the transaction. Include any legal entities or representatives, if applicable.
  • Property Description: Provide a detailed and accurate description of the property, including its address, legal description, and any relevant details that uniquely identify the real estate being transacted.
  • Purchase Price and Payment Terms: Clearly outline the agreed-upon purchase price for the property and specify the terms of payment, including any deposits, financing arrangements, and the timeline for payment.
  • Contingencies: Include contingency clauses that allow the buyer to withdraw from the contract without penalty under specific conditions. Common contingencies include those related to home inspections, financing, and the sale of the buyer’s existing property.
  • Closing Date and Location: Define the anticipated closing date for the transaction and specify the location where the closing will take place. This ensures that all parties are aware of the timeline and venue for completing the deal.
  • Title and Ownership: Address matters related to the property’s title, confirming that the seller has a clear and marketable title to the property. Specify how the title will be transferred and any associated costs.

Benefits of Having an Experienced Lawyer Draft the Real Estate Contract

Real estate transactions involve complex legal language. A qualified real estate lawyer possesses the legal expertise to interpret and explain the terms of the contract, ensuring that you fully understand your rights and obligations.

In addition, an attorney can identify potential risks and liabilities within the contract, helping you tackle the issues that could pose challenges or result in disputes in the future. This proactive approach is important for minimizing legal complications. 

Standardized contracts may not address the unique aspects of your transaction. An attorney can customize the contract to reflect your specific needs and circumstances.

Legal Help is Here from Top-Rated Real Estate Attorneys

The seasoned real estate attorneys at Johannesmeyer & Sawyer, PLLC will dissect the legal jargon, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of your rights and obligations. Our attorneys have extensive local knowledge, ensuring that your contracts are in compliance with regional regulations, and providing you with a distinct advantage in your real estate dealings. To set up your free consultation, call us at (844) 843-1589 or reach us online.

Things Tenants Should Know About Triple-Net (NNN) Commercial Leases

Triple-Net (NNN) lease offers several advantages in terms of cost predictability and property control, but they also come with significant financial responsibilities. You can make the most of NNN commercial lease and mitigate potential risks by being well-informed and prepared. If you are considering such an arrangement, you should conduct due diligence with help from an experienced real estate attorney.

What is a Triple-Net Commercial Lease?

In NNN commercial leases, the tenant is responsible for paying not only the base rent but also the net costs associated with the property, including property taxes, insurance, and maintenance expenses. These are a few key components of a Triple-Net Lease:

  • Base Rent: The tenant pays a fixed base rent to the landlord, typically on a monthly basis.
  • Property Taxes: The tenant is responsible for paying a portion of the property taxes associated with the leased space.
  • Property Insurance: The tenant is required to cover the cost of insurance for the property.
  • Common Area Maintenance (CAM): This includes expenses for maintaining and repairing common areas of the property, such as parking lots, landscaping, and shared facilities. Tenants are often charged a share of these costs.

Triple-Net Leases are common in commercial real estate, especially for properties like retail stores, office spaces, and industrial facilities. They shift a significant portion of the property’s operating expenses to the tenant, making it important to thoroughly understand the terms and associated costs before entering into such an agreement.

Difference Between Triple-Net Commercial Lease and Gross Commercial Lease

Expense Responsibility

As a tenant, you will be responsible for not only paying the base rent but also the “net” costs, which include property taxes, property insurance, and common area maintenance (CAM) expenses in a NNN lease.

With that said, in a Gross Lease, landlords take on the responsibility for covering all property-related costs, such as property taxes, insurance, and maintenance. You would only need to pay a fixed, all-inclusive rent amount without being directly responsible for these expenses.

Cost Predictability

NNN leases can result in less predictable costs for you. This is because the tenant bears the burden of various property expenses, which may fluctuate from year to year. For example, if property taxes increase, you will need to absorb that additional cost.

Gross leases offer tenants greater cost predictability. Since tenants pay a fixed rent amount that includes all property expenses, they don’t need to be concerned about fluctuations in operating costs. 

Control and Responsibilities

NNN leases will lend you a greater control over property maintenance and operational decisions. Tenants are often more directly involved in property management and maintenance, and can make decisions about repairs, landscaping, and other aspects of property upkeep.

Landlords typically retain more control over property maintenance and management responsibilities in a Gross Lease. They are responsible for coordinating repairs, handling property taxes and insurance, and making decisions about the property’s upkeep.

Benefits of NNN Commercial Lease for Tenants

Triple-Net (NNN) commercial leases can be beneficial for tenants in several ways, depending on your specific business needs and financial circumstances:

  • Cost Transparency: NNN leases often provide transparency in costs. Since tenants are responsible for property expenses like taxes, insurance, and maintenance, you will have a clear understanding of your financial obligations beyond the base rent. 
  • Control Over Property: NNN leases give tenants a higher degree of control over the property’s maintenance and operation. You can make decisions about property upkeep, which can be valuable if your business has specific needs.
  • Lower Base Rent: In many cases, the base rent in NNN leases is lower compared to gross leases, where the landlord covers all expenses.
  • Property-Specific Expenses: NNN leases can be attractive for businesses that want to take on property-specific expenses. For instance, a retail business might want to invest in maintaining the appearance of its storefront.

Things to Consider Before Signing a NNN Commercial Lease

These are a few aspects to consider before signing your lease:

Property Taxes

Property taxes are a significant component of NNN lease expenses. These taxes are assessed by local governments and can vary from year to year based on the assessed property value and changes in local tax rates.

Insurance Premiums

Property insurance costs can differ based on factors such as the type and amount of coverage needed, the property’s location, and insurance market conditions. Changes in insurance premiums can lead to fluctuations in NNN expenses.

Maintenance and Repairs

Common Area Maintenance (CAM) expenses, which include maintenance and repairs for shared areas of the property, can also vary. These costs depend on the condition of the property, the need for repairs or upgrades, and the decisions made by the property owner or property management.

Operational Decisions

In a NNN lease, tenants often have control over property maintenance and operational decisions. This can lead to variability in expenses as tenants may choose to invest in maintenance or upgrades to meet their specific business needs.

To manage the variability in costs, tenants in triple-net leases should:

  • Thoroughly review the lease agreement to understand the specific expense-sharing arrangements.
  • Budget for potential cost fluctuations, especially in the property tax and CAM categories.
  • Communicate and negotiate with the landlord to establish clear expectations for cost increases or property improvements.

Choose a Knowledgeable Real Estate Lawyer to Protect Your Rights

The attorneys at Johannesmeyer & Sawyer, PLLC specialize in all aspects of real estate law, from residential transactions to complex commercial deals. We know the ins and outs of zoning regulations, property taxes, and other local factors that can impact your real estate ventures. To schedule your free consultation, call us at (844) 843-1589 or fill out this online contact form.