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Old 08-06-12, 11:59 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Reptiles and Landlords

Interesting Ethics Debate

Friend of mine has been keeping her small collection in their apartment, and while there's nothing in the apartment's policies, terms, etc. about keeping reptiles (only restricting dog breeds of a certain weight & pibulls, go figure), they have not broadcast the fact they keep snakes, to the landlord or to anyone else in the building. Today she posts this:

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Sooo I walked into the apartment's rental office to pay the rent and the lady at the desk was like "Do you have snakes?" I was like "Huh? No, I have a cat..." Then she was like "Oh I must be confused. The pest control guy said that there was something going on in there, that there a snake farm." I played dumb, of course. But seriously, I paid the pet fee and have lived there quietly for a year with no problems. There's also no restrictions on the lease about reptiles.
Obviously, now (my opinion anyway) they're kind of in a pickle because they now have lied about having snakes, and if it is discovered that she does have them, it could get ugly, regardless of what the apartment's terms say.
-----

In any case, the situation got me thinking. Those of you who are in similar living situations, what's your take on this issue? Maybe not on her case specifically, but just keeping herps in rented living situations in general. Do you specifically inquire beforehand what the policies are regarding keeping pets (i.e. reptiles)? If the rules are against, do you just do it anyway and be discreet and hope for the best? If the rules are for "aquarium pets" do you ask about reptiles and snakes specifically? Would you invite the landlord to see your set-up just so there's no misconceptions or misunderstandings?

Also, what experiences have you had or heard of regarding people getting evicted (or attempted to be evicted) because it was discovered they had reptiles?
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Old 08-06-12, 12:03 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Reptiles and Landlords

When I was in Texas, my landlord asked if I had any pets before I moved in. I told him a snake and he just said "no you don't." and went on to explain how they can't have snakes, but as long as mine was non venomous, he didn't care. If Oliver had ever escaped and bit someone, it would be strictly on my head, which I was fine with...so yeah, in some cases it may be a good idea.
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Old 08-06-12, 12:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Reptiles and Landlords

In your friends case, they have nothing to worry about. If it isn't covered in the lease, then once you move in, it's too late for the landlord. Unless of course city or state by laws state otherwise. Laws are pretty much always on the side of the tenant once you occupy the space. Before that, the landlord has free reign to dictate, of course.

My experience with landlords is that they are usually worried about the possibility of damage with pets. Dogs and cars can stink or mess up carpet, so lots of places don't allow them. Aquarium pets are normally allowed as long as your not breaking any laws or keeping venomous animals.
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Old 08-06-12, 12:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Reptiles and Landlords

I have always asked first. My current landlord said he wished I never told him. His only request was that I don't tell the tenants down stairs.
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Old 08-06-12, 12:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Reptiles and Landlords

What's that saying? It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission...
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Old 08-06-12, 03:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Reptiles and Landlords

I don't know what the policy on exotics is in my complex and would rather not ask as to raise suspicions should it turn out to be verboten. Between my two snakes, five tarantulas, true spiders (one of which is a widow), roaches (feeders for the T's), giant millipede, and formerly large centipede and emperor scorpion ... just too much chance on a landlord finding something "unexceptable". What they don't know doesn't hurt me.
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Old 08-06-12, 03:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Reptiles and Landlords

My past apartment complexes had a pet policy allowing cats and "caged animals." I didn't asking further, since my snakes ARE technically caged. In my 1st apartment, my landlord found out and wasn't happy, but since there's nothing in the lease against reptiles, she couldn't do anything about it. In my 2nd apartment, my landlord found out and didn't really care.
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Old 08-06-12, 04:43 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Reptiles and Landlords

My apartment manager knows about my snakes. I told them up front. They consider them "cage / aquarium" animals and I didn't have to pay a deposit.

It probably helps that for the past 2 years I have paid my rent a week early, am extremely courteous to the maintenance staff, and drop in from time to time to thank the manager for such a nice complex to live in.

This is not tooting my own horn (I hope it doesn't sound that way), but just last week I was told that I was the ideal tenant when I dropped my rent off.

Kindness goes a LONG way.
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Old 08-06-12, 10:10 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Reptiles and Landlords

Tell your friend even though they said they didn't have snakes but they if are found out that they acquired them later since it wasn't in the lease.

Not in the lease, not illegal. Just be sure that their local bylaws and laws are being kept with the species since you didn't tell us what it is.

I don't get what the pest guy meant with a "snake farm". It's not like your friend has them all communally together in a critter keeper like an ant farm.
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Old 08-06-12, 11:14 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Reptiles and Landlords

I'm breaking my complex rules, sort of... They allow aquarium animals but not caged ones, and they do allow cats and dogs under 25lbs. The rules here are stupid. They have to give us at least 24 hours notice before entering our apartment and they usually give us a week so I can get them over to a friend's for a day or two. Had to do it twice so far. The leasing agent we first met with said snakes and lizards were fine, but I called back posing as a prospective renter and asked a different person and they said snakes are a no. Fish were ok. I also know for a fact I'm not the only person with snakes in the complex.

As for your friend, Student, its law here that landlords give tenants at least 24 hours notice before anybody sets foot in the apartment, maintenance or otherwise . Something to look into.
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Old 08-06-12, 11:18 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Reptiles and Landlords

When I lived in an apartment, I was completely honest with it. I didn't want to get in the pickle of having to lie or hide anything. It took a while to find one that was not only ok with it (rattlesnakes and all), but didn't want a $200 deposit on each snake. A lot of people in the apartment complex knew to call me for any rattlesnakes that wondered up onto doorsteps or where the kids play.
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Old 08-07-12, 10:21 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Reptiles and Landlords

When we lived in our last rented place they have a "no aquarium policy" and a "no exotics" policy. So knowing I had what I had around I asked what they classified as exotic, and her answer to me was "you don't have any horses or a llama do you?" and I said no and that was that.

The property manager came into my unit all the time we never made any move to hide it from anyone, always paid our rent on time etc.
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Old 08-07-12, 10:33 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Reptiles and Landlords

When seeking an apartment I always ask the following Questions

for no pets, I ask their opinion about Tank Pets, Usually Giving Fish and hamsters as an example

when there is a No Exotics policy, I ask them To explain what they mean by exotic

If they dont have it expressly written that my snakes arent allowed, and they dont say anything before I move in, I dont tell them


as for your friend, if the law is on his/her side, It doesn't really matter that they lied, it will probably complicate things a bit, but the outcome will be the same, if they are allowed, It doesn't really matter what they have to say about it
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Old 08-07-12, 10:35 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Reptiles and Landlords

Always check your local laws and any landlord-tenant boards (that's what its called here but is the go to corporation that knows the rental laws and helps both parties when disagreements occur before going to court.
Then check all the small print in the lease. I would ask for clarification from the landlord if their terminology is unclear. I know my landlord has a no dogs policy and since they are a private landlord with few rentals they have only dealt with dog & cat people. I am their first reptile tenant so I need to make a good impression to represent our community well.
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Old 08-07-12, 10:49 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Reptiles and Landlords

I own my own home, but when I did live in an apartment I made sure that they allowed caged animals. I didn't explicitly tell them that I had reptiles, just small caged pets. They didn't require a deposit on pets in a cage or aquarium under 150 gallons. Maintanance found out about my snakes and for about a month I had those guys all knocking on my door asking to hold them. Lol.
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