Jo Ann Woodsum
The Law Offices of
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Jo Ann's Blog

Words of Wisdom from the Leasing Diva

Consequences for Violation of a Commercial Tenant’s Dog Policy

Once commercial landlords have agreed with a tenant that dogs are permitted in the leased premises, during the lease negotiations, the commercial landlord will need to carefully review tenant’s dog policy.  Landlord will also need to consider what the consequences will be if there is a violation of such dog policy or other problems arising from dogs in the office project.  

Commercial landlords may wish to have a variety of solutions for any such violations.

 

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Pets at WorkJo Ann Woodsum
Templates for Creating Your Company’s Workplace Dog Policy

A comprehensive workplace dog policy may include a variety of forms:

1. Pet Policy

The company’s pet policy may include the company’s philosophy about dogs in the workplace.  Google’s policy famously notes that “Google’s affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture”.  In addition to the company’s dog philosophy, the pet policy should outline the responsibilities of each employee dog owner when bringing dogs into the workplace.  For an example of such a policy, see Trackster’s which is included on its website.

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Pets at WorkJo Ann Woodsum
5 Key Elements of a Successful Tenant Dog Policy

Once a company reaches a certain size, it is important to formalize the company’s dog policy.  Moreover, this may have become a legal imperative if the company has or is contemplating entering into a commercial real estate lease.  Most commercial landlords will insist that office tenants who are permitted to have dogs implement a formal dog policy.  Some landlords will even insist on reviewing the policy and requiring that a copy of the policy be attached to the lease as an exhibit.

These are the 5 key Elements of a Successful Tenant Dog Policy

 

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Pets at WorkJo Ann Woodsum
What Commercial Landlords Think About Dogs in the Workplace

They don’t like it!  Historically in San Francisco, there was an almost absolute ban on dogs in the workplace.  Then the most recent tech revolution began.  For the techies, dogs are important to the success of their companies and employee retention.  Thus, San Francisco commercial landlords (and commercial landlords in other markets) have been forced to permit dogs in order to attract and retain high-tech tenants. 

Landlords have 4 big fears about dogs in the workplace:

 

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Pets at WorkJo Ann Woodsum
Dogs Are Central to Corporate Culture

For many companies, allowing dogs in the workplace is a core value for attracting and retaining top talent.  For some companies, dogs of the company’s initial employees have become iconic of the company itself.  For example, Zynga’s logo even incorporates a dog (founder Mark Pincus's American Bulldog Zinga).  

This core value seems to have a basis in science which has shown that bringing dogs to the workplace boosts productivity.

Once a company reaches a certain size, however, the early days of dog informality give way to the implementation of a formal dog policy.  As general counsel, you’ve been tasked with figuring out your company’s new dog policy.  These are some of the challenges you will face:

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    Pets at WorkSarah Moon
    This Office is Going to the Dogs!

    The classic story – your high tech startup was founded by a couple of guys with dogs.  In the early days, the guys worked out of their garage and the dogs were their constant companions.  As the company grew, dogs in the workplace became a cornerstone of the young company’s corporate culture.  Press fast forward, the company now has several hundred employees and dogs as an essential component of the corporate culture presents an unprecedented level of challenges.  Is having dogs at work scalable?

     

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    Pets at WorkJo Ann Woodsum