Animal Policy

Notes and Explanation

We have released an attorney-reviewed update to our animal addendum. This form has been completely overhauled.

By default, if an animal addendum is not used, our standard lease prohibits keeping pets of any kind.

You can use this animal addendum to permit allowable pets, and should use it for service animals and assistance animals as well.

The new animal addendum aims to be comprehensive of all species and animal-related issues. It incorporates some notes taken as far back as several years ago and never yet put to legalese.

My favorite story actually comes from landlord Dawna in Concord, who described the funeral pyre she discovered her renters had set for their beloved iguana. Funeral pyres and more are now explicitly banned on the premises.

We have tried also to recognize that certain pets like snakes and turtles are not best described by their size alone but by their habitat/terrarium. Landlords can now put limits on the size of such tanks.

Obviously the main issues are dog poop and dogs chained to buildings. Here we adopt a "three strikes" policy that will increase enforceability in court. Document, document, and document a third time.

Some items will remain intractable. We have tried to deal with dog barking and caterwauling, but animals make noise. The problem we are particularly hopeful to address is unattended noisy animals.

Note finally that it continues to be illegal to charge pet deposits, or one-time pet fees in Massachusetts. Any reference to these (which confusingly were hardcoded "$000" in the previous version) have been removed. If an animal would cause increased wear and tear, negotiate the rent up or charge pet rent after the first month, but do not take separate move-in fees.

As always, use these forms with your best judgment, consult with an attorney for factors particular to your business, and let us know of any corrections or suggestions.

Latest Version: 9


  • v9
    • Added guidance on flushable litter, on-site veterinary care and taking unattended animals to shelter.
  • v8
    • Internal working copy.
  • v7
    • Replace terminology of “feeders”, which was confusing for landlords and renters not familiar with live food, with “live food.”
    • Add requirements on maintaining adequate cage size and litterbox count.
    • Reorganize from table to continuous text for easier editing.
  • v6
    • A complete overhaul based on owner experience with dogs, cats, snakes, fish, iguanas, parakeets, and a host of other issues.
    • Provides a long list of “Will” and “Will Not” instructions concerning caretaking, prevention of cruelty, comfort and safety of other Residents, cleanliness, and property damage.
    • Provides spaces for up to three animals including chip numbers, habitat sizes, and more.
  • v3 through v5
    • Not published
  • v2
    • Clarified terminology to allow for sub-leases.
    • In “Restrictions,” limited pets to species permitted by local, state, and federal law as household pets. Called for all licensing and recommended shots, and proof of such.
    • In “Liability,” require lessee to obtain insurance.
  • v1
    • Original version.

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Sample of Massachusetts tenancy at will rental agreement

MassLandlords is a nonprofit dedicated to helping owners rent their property. We try our best, but we can't guarantee these forms will always work. We provide legal information but never advice particular to your situation. Nothing on this site is meant to create an attorney-client relationship. We advise you consult with an attorney.