Upstairs neighbors from hell + hellhounds
April 2, 2014 5:38 PM   Subscribe

Upstairs neighbors with a track record of being inconsiderate got two yappy, poorly trained dogs. The dogs go out on the balcony all day, where they pee and poop through the floor slats. It all lands on our deck, where we sit and eat and grow produce. (I know, I can't believe it either). We've tried many polite but incredulous complaints, which are rapidly rising in exasperation. We've tried getting the management involved. All of this has resulted in a lot of enthusiastic apologies but absolutely no behavior change. Within a few hours the dogs are back out there, yapping and pooping on our living space. What do we do?!

We've been living in this apartment complex for over five years and have had a variety of upstairs neighbors; we've never had trouble before. We don't want to really infuriate these folks, since they've already proven that they're great at making our lives hell (ah, the two months where they played HIGHLY AMPLIFIED KAREOKE five nights a week). We will keep hassling the management, who will keep hassling them.

Should we write a formal letter? Does anyone have experience dealing effectively with this sort of behavior? Every time we talk to them they apologize profusely and try to avoid the confrontation, but then make exactly zero behavioral changes.
posted by you're a kitty! to Human Relations (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Are you willing to move? Because if management won't take concrete steps to solve this problem -- concrete steps that they come up with, because it is their problem to solve at this point -- that's your only option, or at least the only one that gives you enough leverage to tell management "They are told to shape up or get out, or else we get out, and do you think the next people you find to fill this apartment won't have the exact same complaints about their upstairs neighbors?"
posted by Etrigan at 5:45 PM on April 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

I guess your neighbors are considering their balcony to be their back yard. While I wouldn't let my dog do this, I don't think it's all that odd. But you shouldn't have to put up with dripping urine. Can you put up some sort of covering on your side of the balcony--like a ceiling? If they see (and smell) the stuff that doesn't drip away, they might figure it out. I don't think you can prevent them from having the dogs go out there.
Or get management to make their balcony floor solid rather than slatted.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:46 PM on April 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

In the short term I'd secure a tarp to the bottom of their deck slats so the pee & poop stay where they belong.
posted by headnsouth at 5:51 PM on April 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: We're moving out at the end of the summer, and practically can't really leave before then.

Adding a tarp is an option, but it's a pretty gross one.

Thanks for the advice so far!
posted by you're a kitty! at 5:51 PM on April 2, 2014

Ewwwww. Have you tried asking them to cover the deck in pee pads? Or one of those artificial turf potties for dogs?
posted by three_red_balloons at 5:58 PM on April 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

We don't want to really infuriate these folks


Having poop and pee on my deck would make ME infuriated! And the noise would make me double infuriated.

You really need to step up with management here. Feces on your deck, really? Loud noise in retaliation? Isn't poop raining down on you a health violation? I'd be writing the letter to management about that, pronto.

You are paying for your housing, the same as they are. They don't get to infringe upon your right to a clean balcony or quiet time in your home. Don't get all het up anticipating it, deal with it as it comes.

We recently had some bad tenants downstairs, who left their poor dog alone for 2 days at a time, howling in anxiety. And yeah, I heard some loud music and dealt with the creepy drug runs. But our landlord evicted them.

Stick to your guns and find out the laws in your area and keep complaining. And don't be intimidated by these fools. I'd be up there putting the dog shit on their door step. "Is this yours? Do I need to call the Animal Control people on you? You Fools?"
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:07 PM on April 2, 2014 [15 favorites]

You could try contacting the health department. Depends on your locale, but in NYC they'll give you a ticket for not cleaning up dog poop in your back yard (if you have a yard and someone reports you). I imagine having animal excrement drip onto your property is a health concern. You could also potentially sue your landlord and/or withhold rent - again, highly dependent on your local laws.
posted by melissasaurus at 6:08 PM on April 2, 2014 [7 favorites]

I would screw up a piece of plywood or plastic board to the bottom of their deck (or, better yet, make your landlord do it). At least that will prevent waste from dripping through. It'll probably smell rank after awhile, but maybe they'll notice that. Right now they have a self-cleaning system because all the waste drips down onto your deck. Yuck.

I'd also write a formal letter to your landlord. This situation is really impinging on your ability to quietly enjoy your home - look at your lease to see if there's any wording to this effect included. I'd also consider calling the cops with noise complaints. Make it management's problem to deal with it.
posted by quince at 6:09 PM on April 2, 2014 [9 favorites]

What city are you in?

In some but not all jurisdictions you can withhold rent, depositing it into an escrow account, if the landlord allows other occupants to interfere with your right to quiet enjoyment / peaceful possession of your rental property, or fails to provide a habitable premise. It depends on your jurisdiction and your contract, although the former can trump the latter. There's lots of jurisdiction-based, situational stuff, which some community legal services could help you with.

three_red_balloons' suggestions of pee pads may help, and you may want to get them some, and tell them/your landlords "I'll take withhold rent based on advice of a paralegal/call the health department/take the tenants to small claims court if this situation isn't fixed."
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:11 PM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Every municipality has an apartment inspector and/or code enforcement. A call to city hall should get you in touch with your local inspector. I don't know what the regulations are in your area, but I doubt they tolerate feces & urine dripping onto residents.
posted by tanuki.gao at 6:12 PM on April 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

Your post didn't actually mention whether you've informed them that the urine and feces of their dogs are leaking from their balcony and onto yours. If you haven't been this direct with them, I highly suggest being so. If you already have, I second the idea of attaching a tarp to the underside of their deck to catch the dogs' waste. If management complains about it, politely point out your complaints and the lack of resolve thus far - and happily offer to try whatever alternative THEY might think will work - because at this point the neighbors are impacting your ability to enjoy the apartment space you are paying for. That would NOT sit well with me.

Stop trying to play nice with these people - it's clearly not working and they can't be very apologetic if they're continuing to let their dogs' waste leak onto your space. I would stop trying to deal with them directly and ONLY work this through with the property management. A formal letter might give them an idea of how serious this is (and the potential for it to escalate).
posted by stubbehtail at 6:12 PM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. Good suggestions here. And just to be clear: we haven't gone wild screaming at them, but we've been very direct and very emphatically upset about the whole feces-in-our-living-space issue.
posted by you're a kitty! at 6:24 PM on April 2, 2014

Health Department (maybe county) and Building Dept at the city level. This situation goes beyond almost anything I can imagine. The management company is also ultimately under the control of state licensing, I presume, as it is subject to state and federal housing laws. Run, don't walk, to your phone in the morning. Shuddering...
posted by Lornalulu at 6:33 PM on April 2, 2014 [18 favorites]

I also don't understand why you have not already called the Health Department, the Building Department, and why you do not call the police (anonymously!) for noise after 10pm.

They're doing it because they are getting away with it. Stop letting them get away with it.
posted by jbenben at 6:38 PM on April 2, 2014 [6 favorites]

Get them a tarp. (With some cheap outdoor carpet to go on top)

Tell them that you're on board with them taking care of it, but just as an immediate instant temporary fix to give them some time to work on it, everyone wins if they put the tarp+carpet down in the meantime (and you'll even pay for it!).

Once the poop stays on their side of the deck, they'll have a motivation to fix it.
You pay for it because fair or not, it won't happen any other way, and it's worth it to you for this to happen.
posted by anonymisc at 6:52 PM on April 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

lawyer up. you have a case against the upstairs tenants for allowing dogshit to drop on your balcony (you might be able to get a TRO forbidding them to allow the dogs on the balcony, as early as tomorrow) and you might have a case against the landlords for breach of the convenant of quiet enjoyment of rental property.

people will say that you're litigious or "suehappy". that's when you tell them "oh no, you have a bad attitude. that's what courts are for, to provide a non-violent, socially favored means of dispute resolution, and considering the alternatives available to me, you should be brimming over with gratitude that i selected this one."
posted by bruce at 6:55 PM on April 2, 2014 [14 favorites]

I was going to recommend putting down pee pads on your deck and then taking up pee/poop-stained results to them and leaving it on their doorstep with a note "This belongs to you, found it on my deck." With hopes that they'd step on it on their way out the door.

But calling the health department is probably a more mature thing to do.
posted by emjaybee at 7:04 PM on April 2, 2014 [4 favorites]

Why should these people change anything? They're not cleaning up the poo - you are. Ten-to-one they shove the stuff off the slats and down to your balcony when you're not looking so they don't have to pick it up and carry it out to the trash.

First, written complaint to tenant, including details and date range of the problem, with copy to management office. If nothing is resolved in three days, call to Health Dept.

They don't have to get rid of their dogs, but they're not allowed to put your health at risk.
posted by aryma at 8:44 PM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, definitely involve the health department. Urine and feces falling on you from above? How is that not a health issue and probably some kind of code violation?
posted by xedrik at 11:05 PM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding aryma's advice. I think it's best to have complaints in writing when dealing with your management office. This way if you are going to get a lawyer and/or the health department involved, you have a paper trail. Also, take pictures.
posted by Shadow Boxer at 5:32 AM on April 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Don't forget too, that urine soaked wood stinks in warm weather (and poo too). You don't want to be charged for damages because of them. Especially since you are moving at the end of summer. Write a letter to management and let then know you will be contacting the local health department if the problem isn't permanently solved in a reasonable time. That is just gross. Sorry.
posted by MayNicholas at 6:47 AM on April 3, 2014

I'd scoop up the poo, put it in a plastic bag and hang it on their door with a note, "I believe this is yours."

The noise and the mess are unacceptable. What I'd do is give the complex some options:

1. They speak to the upstairs tenants and it stops 100%.

2. They move you to another unit in the complex at no charge to live out your lease. (this is a PITA for everyone, but it's an option)

3. They let you out of your lease early.

You'll be surprised at how flexible they can be if you start to be a total pain in the ass.

As for the neighbors, complain to the police and to the complex management about noise, as it happens. Call the health department about the dog waste.

One thing you could do is take a tarp, and have it come slanting down, from the edge of their deck (by the door) to over your railing. This will make dog waste slide down from their balcony to the sidewalk below. When it becomes everyone else's problem, then it will be more urgent.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:35 AM on April 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Another thought.

When dog waste appears on your deck, treat it as vandalism and make a police report. Call the non-emergency police number, in the evening, when you don't mind waiting around for a response and tell them you want to make a report of vandalism.

Then when the cops show up, act all surprised, "It can't be the upstairs neighbors, after all, we've asked them and they say it's not them!" Hintity-hint-hint. There's a VERY good chance that the cops will at least go upstairs and tell them to knock it off.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:13 AM on April 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

I guess it is close to impossible for you to change the behavior of your neighbors if something as logical as - don't let pee/shit fall onto the balcony of the guys below me doesn't occur to them.

Therefore, is it possible to approach this as a tenants rights issue and take this up with the landlord.

You have a right to have a balcony without pee and shit on it.

If the upstairs neighbors have an agreement with the landlord that their dogs pee/shit on the upstairs balcony, then it is a construction problem that there is pee/shit on your balcony which renders your balcony unusable. Can you take whatever tenants rights you have and inform the landlord that your balcony is unusable and therefore you want xyz (whatever your rights are in your jurisdiction)?

good luck. It really sounds terrible esp. with the summer approaching.
posted by jazh at 11:54 AM on April 3, 2014

Call all the departments mentioned above. Then get a tarp that catches all their disgusting waste and periodically deposit it on their doorstep with a note that says that you're returning items of theirs that were left on your balcony. Repeat. I don't even know that this counts as being passive aggressive, given that you've outright asked for what you need and been denied. The only reason they don't care is because they don't have to deal with the results. Well, now they do. So hopefully things will change. You won't make any friends but they clearly don't care about that anyway. This is so far beyond the pale, I just can't...
posted by Jubey at 4:12 PM on April 3, 2014

I am going through the same crap right now. Guess what? I am suing the landlord for breach of lease. We go to court for my tenant's assertion on 5/19. Check your lease. In ours its specifically says no pets are to be left unattended on porch or balcony. We have called animal control, talked to the office several times. The last straw for us was on 4/12 we were out enjoying our patio when a few turds come flying off the upstairs neighbors porch. Yep, she swept the shit off her porch narrowing missing my hubby's head. After a few choice words she told my hubby she was going to come down to pick it up. Well, I called the office. The office said they didn't know what to do because the neighbor said we were lying and her and the dog weren't even home, they were in Georgia. Yeah, well we gave them pics of the shit and a pic of the dog up there alone again pissing down on our porch the night before. I got sick of the landlords bs excuses, especially since on 4/5 they said if it happened again they would evict them. I am not even mad at the neighbors anymore. You can't fix stupid. But if the landlord wants their rent money released from the court they better have a pretty good defense on 5/19.
posted by tbaita at 12:11 AM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

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