What should I do about a dog that is not supposed to live in the building?
June 11, 2010 1:12 PM   Subscribe

The renters upstairs have a dog. Our lease clearly states no pets, and the dog barks all the time. I've talked to the guys upstairs about the dog, and they told me he would only be there another week. That was one month ago, and I still hear and see the dog daily. Should I approach the landlord, or is that petty?

I really love living in my duplex, and the renters upstairs are generally fairly good duplex-partners; noisy parties sometimes, but nothing too crazy/disrespectful. The dog situation is making me crazy, though! I've talked to the renters about the dog twice now -- once, a month ago, and yesterday, when they told me they weren't sure when the dog was leaving. I'm at the point where I am ready to talk to my landlord, but at the same time I don't want to be the mean neighbor who turns in the cute dog. If the dog weren't noisy and didn't bark like crazy every time I go in the front door of my level, I probably wouldn't care about the rule violation that much -- I love dogs. I also wonder if I should just wait it out for the landlord to catch them with the pet, and let the chips fall where they may. What is the best way/most mature way to handle this?
posted by superlibby to Human Relations (33 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Definitely go to the landlord. You've done the reasonable thing in trying to talk to the neighbors, but they're not meeting you halfway.
posted by chiababe at 1:16 PM on June 11, 2010 [7 favorites]

talk to your neighbors again - say "hey, i love you as neighbors, and i generally like dogs - but your dog barks constantly and it's really starting to affect my quality of life - so, how can we work this out without getting the landlord involved?"

or - just go to the landlord - you can even pretend to "forget" about the clause and just offhandedly mention "omg, love dogs - but the constant barking is driving me crazy!" - then chips still fall where they may.

as an aside - are you sure they signed the same lease you did? maybe the negotiated to have the dog?
posted by nadawi at 1:16 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yep, they have the same terms -- they previously (a little less than a year ago) got into semi-trouble with the landlord for pet-sitting for a dog long-term.
posted by superlibby at 1:20 PM on June 11, 2010

You've talked to your neighbours about the noise and haven't got a resolution; escalate it your landlord. Complain to your landlord about the noise not about the illegal pet. While your lease has a no pets prohibition theirs might not or they might have got dispensation from the landlord. And if not it's not the legal status of the pet that is the problem it is the noise so that is what you should complain about.
posted by Mitheral at 1:20 PM on June 11, 2010

You've already tried the Mr. Nice Gal approach, and you've been effectively blown off. In your situation, I wouldn't feel the least bit of remorse for going to the landlord.
posted by jon1270 at 1:25 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

The time has come to bring it up with the landlord.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:25 PM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

It's not clear from your question whether you've broached the idea of going to the landlord. If you want to be a "fair" own up to the fact that you're going to turn them in if they don't handle the problem by x date. They'll already suspect it's you anyway. But it gives them fair warning to deal with the dog without eviction/penalties whatever if they handle the dog situation before the deadline. If they don't it's on them.
posted by edbles at 1:25 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

(Ms./Mrs. Nice Gal...)
posted by jon1270 at 1:26 PM on June 11, 2010

If it was me, I'd give them one more chance but with an explicit ultimatum: either they figure out how to keep the dog quiet NOW, as in TODAY, or you're going to have to inform the landlord.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 1:28 PM on June 11, 2010

A month is plenty of time for them to take care of the situation. It might cause tension with the neighbors but it's simply not fair to yourself to suffer through it. Contact the landlord or tell the neighbors that you will if they don't deal with it ASAP.
posted by haveanicesummer at 1:28 PM on June 11, 2010

As you live in a duplex, I don't think you have to worry about whether your neighbors will figure out it was you or not (or at least as some of the replies have pondered). As everyone before has said, you've spoken to them about the issue already. They know full and well that they're in violation of the lease and any possible consequences that might come from such. Go complain to the landlord. You have a right to enjoy your apartment.
posted by Atreides at 1:29 PM on June 11, 2010

What happens if you turn them in and they get an ultimatum -- lose the dog or get evicted? What if they are unable to find the dog a home, and they can't/won't move? The dog may get sent to a shelter, and then put down. It is not your problem, but life sucks that way sometimes.

If I were in your shoes I would at least warn them that I plan to talk to the landlord if the barking doesn't stop and give them a deadline, which would hopefully get them moving on finding a new home for the dog and also give them a bit of time before the last resort becomes the only option. Realistically the dog won't stop barking without some serious reconditioning and that won't happen fast enough for you.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:30 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't want to be the mean neighbor who turns in the cute dog.

The mean neighbor is the one who sees a dog in the building once, assumes his neighbors have an illegal pet, and calls the landlord immediately. You've given them the benefit of the doubt, tried to work with them, tried to communicate clearly, and they're ignoring you--and, moreover, they're persisting in doing something they know creates an unpleasant situation for you. They're being bad neighbors, and they're doing it on purpose. I wouldn't give an ultimatum ("Deal with the dog or I'll call the landlord"). If they were willing to address the situation, they would have: they know you're bothered by the noisy dog and they aren't doing anything about it. Giving an ultimatum just adds drama.

If you're worried about fallout after you talk to the landlord, you could ask him if he'd be willing to leave you out of it and just have him tell the neighbors he was in the building and heard the dog.

Paul's doom and gloom about the dog being put down is... a bit over the top. These are not responsible pet owners (pet-sitters?), so the dog is already in a problematic situation. It's not up to you to protect them.
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:37 PM on June 11, 2010 [14 favorites]

If I were in your shoes I would at least warn them that I plan to talk to the landlord if the barking doesn't stop and give them a deadline, which would hopefully get them moving on finding a new home for the dog and also give them a bit of time before the last resort becomes the only option.

No, this is how you risk reprisal from the neighbors. These people have lied about the length of time the dog will be staying and are actively violating their lease again. This is unfortunate for the dog, but life sucks that way sometimes.
posted by griphus at 1:38 PM on June 11, 2010

Three strikes and your out, right? Sounds like you have given them two chances and gotten no response, so I'd give them another warning, and tell them what failing to act will cause. They might feel put upon but, really you will have been fair.

I love dogs too, but a neighbor's that barks constantly drives me up a wall -- I feel sorry for it and worry about it, but can't do anything but grit my teeth.
posted by Some1 at 1:39 PM on June 11, 2010

Well, they lied to you... so if you let it go on, they'll probably just keep treating you like a schmuck.
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:42 PM on June 11, 2010

Ask the landlord to stop by to fix something in your apartment.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:09 PM on June 11, 2010 [4 favorites]

No, this is how you risk reprisal from the neighbors"

she's talked to them about the dog twice - if the landlord magically shows up, knowing about the dog, they'll just assume it's true. reprisals will happen either way if they were already going that way.
posted by nadawi at 2:11 PM on June 11, 2010

I'm going to join the "give them one more chance" team. I'm a dog lover though, so I'm probably biased.

Does it only bark when you go into your house, or does it bark when it's left alone/out back for a while? If it's only barking when you go into your house, I can't imagine that it could be that annoying unless it barks for hours after that. If it's more often, I'd suggest ways to minimize the barking (duh) like not leaving the dog out back all night, and training him to deal with separation anxiety and territorial behaviors. I know the dog is not technically your "problem", but it's worth exploring. You could even pair it with a threat to contact the landlord:

"Dog lovers: Your dog barks when this, this and this happens. There are ways to prevent this via training and/or common sense. Please be a responsible dog owner and look into them ASAP, or I'll be forced to turn you into the landlord. If I do that, you won't be a dog owner at all. Love, Anonymous Neighbor or Mrs/Ms. Libby"
posted by Lizsterr at 2:18 PM on June 11, 2010

Haha! "turn you into the landlord". I'm a crackpot. I meant, turn you IN to the landlord.
posted by Lizsterr at 2:20 PM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've been there, and I've done that, except it was my roommate that decided to have a friend and a dog stay with us for a month. I told him she had to leave and, after a month, I called the landlord/rental company and they came over and kicked her and her dog out. I told him straight up that I told them and I was sick and tired of having a freeloader with a messy dog staying in a rental I was paying for.

I am not suggesting this is what you should do, but it is what I would do again. In fact, I woudn't have waited for a month before doing it if I had to do it over again.
posted by TheBones at 2:26 PM on June 11, 2010

If you are absolutely certain that your landlord has said "no dogs" to your upstairs neighbors and this is not negotiable, you can always contact your landlord and ask if you can get a dog, since your upstairs neighbor has one. That will alert your landlord to the issue.
posted by juniperesque at 2:30 PM on June 11, 2010

Best answer: If you are genuinely annoyed regularly by the dog (and this isn't just a "hey they're not following the rules" kind of thing), here's what I'd do:

"Hey, I'm not opposed to dogs generally, but one of the reasons I moved into this building is that I don't want to be annoyed with barking all the time. I've tried to be patient, and when you said it would be a week I tried to live with it, but it's been a month now and it's driving me out of my mind. I really would hate to see you kicked out, or the dog not have a home. Can you tell me what's going on, how long the dog is really going to stay, and if there's something we can do to stop the barking?"

One of three outcomes will occur:

1. They tell you what's going on, how long the dog is going to stay, and try to work something out with the dog in the meantime. The dog leaves as scheduled, and that's that.

2. They tell you what's going on, how long the dog is going to stay, and try to work something out with the dog in the meantime -- but the dog's still there a week later, and the noise abatement efforts aren't helping. Meanwhile, you've written down the dates involved, who you've talked to, and so on, and so now you go to the landlord.

3. They don't want to talk to you. Go to the landlord.
posted by davejay at 2:33 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

your neighbors are not respecting your rights. i'd call the landlord. don't bother talking to them again. if they were that concerned, they would have talked to you once they realized that the dog was overstaying.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 2:59 PM on June 11, 2010

Even if you bring it to the landlord - it's up to him if he wants to enforce this part of the lease (unless your lease has some guarantees that there are no dogs in the building, and their presence would materially breach the lease).

If the lanlord doens't care, the only way you can force the issue is by being prepared to move because this bothers you, and let the landlord know that - this will give him incentive to do something about it.
posted by TravellingDen at 5:29 PM on June 11, 2010

I live in a place where dogs are allowed and have called the landlord on someone whose dog was barking all night several nights in a row. It turned out the dog had separation anxiety because 'mom' was at her boyfriends. She got a bark collar for it and we'll hear a yip every once in a great while, but otherwise it's been great. So I'd go with davejay's strategy and mention the collars while you're at it. Then you'll hopefully have a buffer for any complaints they may have about you.
posted by jwells at 5:39 PM on June 11, 2010

The landlord may also be pissed, but ultimately just raise their rent as a pet surcharge rather than kicking the dog/rent-paying-dog-owners out. Then you'd still have the barking dog above you. 2nd TravellingDen that you're going to have to give the landlord the impression that if he doesn't get rid of the dog, he's still going to have to find a new renter -- for your unit.
posted by ctmf at 5:42 PM on June 11, 2010

Once upon a time, I was reknowned for my innovative approaches to pranks. I was confronted by a similar situation, in which a couple would hold raucous battles that kept practically an entire building awake. I simply recorded their luscious utterances, then played them back on a pair of Bose 901 speakers, full tilt, just after I knew they'd gone to sleep. As I recall, I only needed to do it twice. The quiet was stunning. I imagine it was embarrassing, since it could be heard blocks away (he says as he wipes a tear of nostalgic remembrance away...Those were the days...).
posted by girdyerloins at 7:08 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing write to the landlord right this minute (and also to the Strata Manager if there is one.)

You have a right not to be subject to this barking - studies show that distressing longterm background noise like this can raise your blood pressure, cause you stress, reduce the effectiveness of your immune system, disrupt your sleep - not to mention interfering with your quiet enjoyment of your living space.

It is unfortunate if the other tenants have to rehome their dog, or move out, but it is not your problem - it is their responsibility to take their dog to obedience training, walk it frequently, look into antibark collars etc. to stop this sort of situation from occurring.
posted by Year of meteors at 8:54 PM on June 11, 2010

Secret recording of conversations where you are neither of the parties in the conversation is pretty well illegal in every state in the USA.
posted by Mitheral at 8:55 PM on June 11, 2010

What about secret recording of a dog's barking?
posted by salvia at 9:15 PM on June 11, 2010

Does the dog bark all the time? Or does the dog bark when you go to the front door? These are very different things.

I wouldn't rat out the dog, because I am a lover of all dogs.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:33 PM on June 11, 2010

Response by poster: Our landlord came by for unrelated repairs at the unit next door over the weekend, and the dog was found out due to his barking. The dog is apparently now the new pet of the parents of one of the tenants. Happyish ending for everyone (including the dog, I think -- not living among empty beer bottles and having to be cooped up all day has to be an improvement!).
posted by superlibby at 11:23 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

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