Most people adore living with pets, and a flexible pet policy is a great way to attract families to your rental property. But pets can pose particular challenges, of course: they shed fur, leave stains, and can cause other kinds of property damage if their owners aren’t responsible.
Tenants are also known for breaking pet policies, whether that means sneaking in pets where none are allowed or living with more pets than their contract permits.
If you are going to set a pet policy for your Katy, Texas property, you should be aware of the underlying laws that your rules need to be structured around. Here’s what Katy’s animal control laws say about pet ownership within city limits.
By the Numbers
As in many cities, Katy sets a limit on the number of pets you can have with you. With reference to dogs and cats, the maximum is three.
This may not seem like very many, especially if you’re renting a larger residence, but city ordinance states that no more than 3 cats or dogs over the age of six months can be in the home at any time.
Many property managers cap the permitted number of pets in their facilities at two in order to keep tenants firmly within the limits. That way, even the individual who sneaks in an extra won’t be breaking the law, though of course he or she is violating the contract.
Property managers typically ask for a pet deposit or fee to cover any damage a pet might cause to their property, but many don’t ask for significantly more information than that. This is a mistake.
As the individual in charge of the property, you should make it your responsibility to confirm appropriate vetting, including vaccine administration, and registration of pets. Unvaccinated pets over the age of six months are illegal and can be seized by animal control.
Managing pets is an ongoing process, and you should ask residents to submit updated pet records with contact information for their vet on an annual basis. This may feel onerous — just one more task on your long list of responsibilities as a property manager — but treat it a way to protect both yourself and your tenants.
If an unvaccinated animal bites someone, you could both be liable.
Tag and Track
Most people are responsible about putting an identification tag on their dogs. They’re aware that dogs often break from the leash or get out and are picked up by animal control.
But people tend to be less assiduous about tagging their cats. Though cats often run off, there is an understanding that they know how to find their way back home, even if this isn’t necessarily the case.
Katy Animal Control requires dogs and cats to wear tags at all times. This also helps officials return pets promptly if and when they get lost. It’s much harder to reclaim a lost animal that’s not tagged, and since Katy Animal Control doesn’t adopt animals out, failure to tag pets can leave them in limbo.
Gates and Gardens
It’s vital to remind your tenants that it’s illegal for any cat or dog to run unleashed outside a gated property, which means that even if the home they’re renting has plenty of room and the dog is well trained, they’ll have to keep it on a leash unless you install a fence.
Similarly, while there isn’t a formal city prohibition on outdoor cats, few people leash their cats, and you can’t confine on very effectively even with a high fence, so it falls to you as the property manager to require that all cats remain indoors.
Big Properties, Bigger Rules
Everything’s bigger in Texas, right? Even in little Katy, you’ll often find larger properties, and some of these are up for rent.
If you rent out an acre or more of land, you may have tenants who want to raise animals on it. This seems a likely possibility, yet most property managers don’t have a policy for this.
Luckily, Katy has you covered. You can’t raise farm animals on less than an acre of land, and if a tenant chooses to use the land in this way, there are significant restrictions.
Per acre, residents are permitted a limit of two goats, horses, sheep, or cows, or a maximum of 25 rabbits, chicken, or other fowl. Pigs are illegal in Katy.
When Things Get Wild
Farm animals are pretty tame in terms of Texas wildlife, but what happens when a truly wild tenant wants to bring an ocelot or chimpanzee onto the property? Can you stop this?
As the property owner or manager, you can of course set policies that forbid the keeping of wild or dangerous animals on the property, but if you fail to establish a policy regarding such animals in advance, you may be in trouble. In Texas, individuals can own a wild animal if they register and house it properly.
You might presume it will never happen, but it’s smarter to add a clause about wild animals to your standard contract. Most property managers simply aren’t prepared for the day someone shows up and says I have a fully registered tiger I’d like to have live with me.
Responsible and Ready
Almost every state has regulations about what kinds of animals, and how many, can be kept as pets or livestock. Yet very few individuals know the ins and outs of these laws as well as they should.
That lack of knowledge leads to unfortunate scenarios, such as the therapy pig under threat by the city or the well-trained rooster taken by animal control. People are heartbroken when their animals are taken away, so it’s best to prevent such scenarios from arising in the first place.
As a Katy property owner, you need to have clear laws that define which animals and how many are permitted on your properties. To do this effectively, you need to understand the laws … or you need someone on your side who does.
That’s where Green Residential comes in. With more than 30 years of property management experience, the Green Residential team can help you navigate the nuances of Katy area laws, whether it’s about animals or anything else.
Are you ready to call in the professionals? Green Residential’s Katy, Texas team offers comprehensive property management services that can relieve the pressure you face as an owner. Let us help you keep things running smoothly.
Contact Green Residential today to learn more about our services. We’re responsible and ready for anything … even an ocelot.