The landlord's dog escapes and ruins everything.
December 31, 2009 11:53 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend: Is there anything that can be done about a landlord who lives in the building and allows his dog to defecate throughout the building?

My friend has a situation. A shituation. She lives in a rather nice, new (about 3 years old) small apartment building in Brooklyn. The landlord lives on the entire ground floor and has a 7 month-old rottweiler. The landlord, besides being a nice guy, is kind of a piece of work. He regularly leaves the door to his apartment wide open, as well as one or both doors to the building itself, and he's usually high and blasting music. A business-like landlord he is not.

While my friend enjoys her eccentric and friendly landlord for entertainment value, and asserts that when she asks him to fix something in her apartment he's really good about doing it, she is distraught about one thing: The landlord's aforementioned rottweiler, (which happens to be named after a major greek god) several times in the past few weeks has wandered out of the landlord's apartment, gone up the stairs to the other floors and landings between floors, and shat.

My friend does not want to move out of her apartment when her lease is up, but she is really disgusted with this new pattern, especially since the landlord seems lackadasical about cleaning up after the dog. The shit remains where it was shat for hours before it is (badly) cleaned up, and is not fully cleaned up unless someone specifically complains to the landlord. When my friend has mentioned the new problem to the landlord, he has chuckled as though he finds it funny and as though dog shit all over the building is just part of having a dog.

This is a weird situation because if this were another tenant, the answer would be "call the landlord." But this IS the landlord. Is there some sort of health code or guideline that prevents landlords from allowing this sort of environment? My friend has tried looking for health codes for NYC but hasn't found anything.

We are looking for advice regarding whether this is against some stated code, and for how to handle this with the landlord. She really likes her apartment and aside from the dog shit, the building. We don't see why the landlord can't just keep the dog in his apartment with the door closed, but since the guy owns the building, it's kind of hard to tell him what to do with his door.
posted by millipede to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
"Health Code ยง 161.03 Control of dogs and other animals to prevent nuisance. A person who owns ... a dog ... shall not permit the animal to commit a nuisance on a sidewalk of any public place, on a floor, wall, stairway or roof of any public or private premises used in common by the public, or on a
fence, wall or stairway of a building abutting on a public place."

I believe the apartment hallways and stairwells would count as "private premises used in common."
posted by zippy at 12:14 AM on January 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

This is really health department level illegal but I think the hard part is that your friend likes the landlord and hasn't been able to impress this point upon him. I think the choices are lightweight but direct: "Dude, that's a health code violation.", passive aggressive: Sticky note by the poop that reads health code violation chapter/section, or legal: call the health department and let them deal with it.

But if the question is, is it legal for someone to leave dog poop in a building: it is not.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:57 AM on January 1, 2010

Also, a seven month old dog should know not to poop inside. Getting him to train the dog, as opposed to leaving the door open, is probably the best option. Of course he leaves the door open. Otherwise the dog would be pooping in his apartment.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:58 AM on January 1, 2010

As with most questions concerning landlords in New York, I suggest that your friend call 311. They are good at guiding you toward the correct people who will help you.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:09 AM on January 1, 2010

I know this isn't a real solution, but in the short term, can your friend put a doggie gate at the landing or the foot of the stairs?
posted by hermitosis at 7:18 AM on January 1, 2010

2nding the doggie or Kiddie gate. If he asks just say you're a bit afraid of dogs...( In other words try to avoid the whole He's shitting all over the place confrontation.) Also try to gently remind him that leaving the building wide open is not very safe for his female tenants...
posted by Gungho at 7:36 AM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Can you spray pet repellant in the stairways?
posted by CathyG at 10:09 AM on January 1, 2010

Scoop it up and leave it at the landlord's door. "Hey, that kinda sucks, huh? If you weren't looking you would have stepped in it, huh? Yeah, Sometimes I don't look where I'm walking on the landing."
posted by notsnot at 10:39 AM on January 1, 2010 [3 favorites]

I believe the correct protocol is to contact your city council member for your district.

I had a landlord once who wouldn't fix anything, and alas, he was my city council member for the district i was living in, so what I did was have the fire chief come out and fine him.

Maybe you could do something with the health department to get this taken care of.

There are always was to get what you want.

Good luck.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 10:51 AM on January 1, 2010

Your friend needs to decide if the dog shit is a "deal-breaker"... from your description the landlord feels this is an inconsequential matter. The obvious thing is to report him, but we all know how that will go. He will get PO'ed and there goes your friend's nice relationship with him.

The sad thing is that the dog is definitely going to reach maturity --allowed to defecate indoors! It's only going to get worse. It's also sad that the landlord doesn't view this as horrible! God! Your friend could sit down and write a nice letter to him about how she needs to have no dog feces in the halls as it embarrasses her when people visit, or that she has slipped in it (etc)... she could also include a clear and obvious cc to an authority. This will likely ruin the relationship but OH WELL. It may be worth the risk. If it were in writing he may see that she has a point.

Friend needs to decide if a power struggle with that guy is worth the risk.

(I would move!)
posted by naplesyellow at 11:15 AM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Is this landlord actually the owner of the building? If he's just a superintendent/manager, contact the owner.
posted by rhizome at 11:56 AM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree with rhizome. Anything is possible coming out of the NINJA mortgage era, but this guy doesn't sound like he's competent to rub two sticks together, let alone finance, build, and manage an apartment building. He does sound more like a layabout super -- low pay, free rent, perfect for stoners. If so, the actual owners should be informed of how he's treating their property like a doggy toilet.

If you contact the health department, the owners will of course be notified regardless.

Your absentee landlord who allows property to deteriorate is either highly undercapitalized or bought something cheap and manages it for the depreciation or tax loss, at the end of which they sell it away even cheaper. But three years old isn't commonly part of this scenario.
posted by dhartung at 12:21 PM on January 1, 2010

@ rhizome yes, i promise he is actually the owner. he is not the manager. he financed, built, and manages the apartment building. welcome to greenpoint.
posted by millipede at 2:00 PM on January 1, 2010

@ dhartung the landlord is not absentee. he lives in the building and he does work on the building ALL THE TIME. other than the dog shit, the building is really well-cared-for and is not depreciating in any way.
posted by millipede at 2:03 PM on January 1, 2010

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