I was reading over my lease agreement and noticed the following clause:

No animals or reptiles of any kind may be kept in or about the leased premises.

I thought it odd that the language seems to single out reptiles as though such creatures were somehow not included under the "animals" umbrella. I did a search of the phrase to see if it is common, and it seems that many lease agreements use this phrase. Why do these documents, which are otherwise quite precise and carefully worded, make such an odd distinction?


Because animal has several definitions, specifically:

2 b : Mammal

While you are probably thinking of:

1 : any of a kingdom (Animalia) of living things including many-celled organisms and often many of the single-celled ones (such as protozoans) that typically differ from plants in having cells without cellulose walls, in lacking chlorophyll and the capacity for photosynthesis, in requiring more complex food materials (such as proteins), in being organized to a greater degree of complexity, and in having the capacity for spontaneous movement and rapid motor responses to stimulation

While reptiles are captured by 1, they aren't by 2 b. This wording aviods any dispute over which definition is meant.

  • 2
    Though if that's the case, then it remains ambiguous as to birds, fish, amphibians, and invertebrates. Apr 5 '18 at 4:59
  • 1
    @NateEldredge Of course, most of the examples I can think from these categories will live in aquariums or similar enclosed habitats, so maybe landlords just don't care much about those.
    – SJuan76
    Apr 5 '18 at 10:00
  • @SJuan76 Birds shed feathers, and parrots in particular can do a fearsome amount of damage to fittings. I'd rather my tenants had a snake than a parrot (actually, I'd allow both although I'd be clearer they will need to pay for any damage in the parrot case. In reality, they have a house cat.) Apr 6 '18 at 8:26
  • I always found this funny. Technically humans are animals but obviously this doesn't exclude humans from entering the home. (Same with bacteria). I think if it just said "no animals" the common interpretation would be applied to mean no animals which could possibly be considered pets. Sep 30 '19 at 23:06
  • @justasking111 I think it would also extend to cattle and elephants which are not usually pets
    – Dale M
    Sep 30 '19 at 23:11

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