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How keeping too many pets can get you in trouble with your landlord

As many Michigan tenants know, many apartment buildings have strict pet policies that if broken, can cause you to become evicted from your property. But as we'll see in a few moments, sometimes you may be evicted not for what type of pet you brought onto your property but how many you were keeping.

When residents of a trailer park in Wisconsin started to see the tiny, whiskered faces of rats in the windows of one of the homes, many were confused as to whether it was pets that had escaped or whether the female tenant had an infestation on her hands. But when they started to see more and more rats, they quickly realized that the situation was not all that it appeared to be.

By the time the park manager had gotten involved, there were an estimated 300 rats living on the property at one time. Reports seem to indicate that none of the animals were caged and had free reign over the trailer, even chewing their way into the walls and structure of the home.

Court documents indicate that when police were notified about the alleged infestation, the woman who lived at the residence was asked to get rid of the rats. This was likely because rats, like most rodents, can carry incredibly harmful diseases that can cause serious health risks to the people who come into contact with them. But the woman claimed that they didn't cause any harm, and when she refused to get rid of them, police say she was evicted from her home.

If a situation like this were to occur in an apartment complex, a tenant might not only be held accountable for violating a lease agreement, but may be required to pay back any damages that the animals may have caused. Like in the situation above, because the rats had free reign of the home, they were allowed to chew on the walls and floorboards which could significantly impact that home's structural integrity.

Landlord-tenant disputes such as this can sometimes be resolved without the assistance of a lawyer; but when one or both parties are reluctant to budge on their standpoint, disputes such as this may result in legal intervention and may need the expertise of a real estate lawyer to sort everything out.

Source:, "Woman evicted after keeping hundreds of pet rats," Emily Neubauer, Feb. 6, 2013

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