Tenant refuses to remove dog - quick help please!

36 Replies

We are planning to show our rental unit to an applicant soon and our tenant is saying "no. You can show it after we move." We replied that as it states in our lease terms we can enter the property with 24 hours notice for any reason. The tenant said "fine, we arent removing the dog or straightening up." I replied that if they refused to clean, that is a reflection on them. The dog is non-negotiable. The dog is friendly when they are around but when we entered the house without them in the past he snarled and showed teeth. How do I handle this situation? They are moving a two weeks and this would be a second showing for thus applicant. we even tried to be courteous by asking the tenant what day/time would work best for them.   

Just wait till they move out. You have no recourse that would be quicker than 2 weeks. 

If a tenant refuses to abide by lease terms and will not comply with your verbal attempts your only recourse is eviction. This would take longer than two weeks.

Agree on waiting until they move out.

I agree with @James Wise and @Nancy Brook two weeks will fly by and before you know it you can show the apartment at your convenience.  Hopefully within your model you have worked in partial vacancy rates and as long as you planned appropriately I think you will turn out ok.  

Also when you show the apartment without the current tenants mess and dog you will be able to show the apartment with its full potential.

i'd charge them and keep some of their sec deposit for being difficult, and not allowing you to show/dogs, etc.

but even if you show it, it wont rent. it will look like a mess and even the messy people will complain about it.

This happens a lot where any forcible action you take would likely be futile and not worth the effort. If getting the applicant in to see the property is a priority you can try bribing the current tenant. It is maddening that you are rewarding them for their defiant behavior, but the bottom line is this should just be a business decision for you. If you have give them $50 or a gift cetificate or something in order to minimize your vacancy it may be worth it. Should be simple to run the numbers. As a "man of principle" this has been one of the hardest parts of landlording for me. Do what you have to to maximize your profits and then dream about when the next landlord calls you for a reference while screening this clown.

Originally posted by @George P. :

i'd charge them and keep some of their sec deposit for being difficult, and not allowing you to show/dogs, etc.

but even if you show it, it wont rent. it will look like a mess and even the messy people will complain about it.

 On what possible grounds?  

Be aware that in some state's, improper charges against a tenant's security deposit can result in treble damages.

I would be very surprised if you lease gave you the right to force the tenant to vacate for showings.  They probably do have to allow you access.  They do not have to vacate themselves, clean up, or move their dog.

Originally posted by @Richard C. :
Originally posted by @George P.:

i'd charge them and keep some of their sec deposit for being difficult, and not allowing you to show/dogs, etc.

but even if you show it, it wont rent. it will look like a mess and even the messy people will complain about it.

 On what possible grounds?  

Be aware that in some state's, improper charges against a tenant's security deposit can result in treble damages.

 because they refuse to honor their lease and prevent you from profiting in your business - causing you a month's loss. wont that work?

Originally posted by @George P. :
Originally posted by @Richard C.:
Originally posted by @George P.:

i'd charge them and keep some of their sec deposit for being difficult, and not allowing you to show/dogs, etc.

but even if you show it, it wont rent. it will look like a mess and even the messy people will complain about it.

 On what possible grounds?  

Be aware that in some state's, improper charges against a tenant's security deposit can result in treble damages.

 because they refuse to honor their lease and prevent you from profiting in your business - causing you a month's loss. wont that work?

 No.  Absolutely not.  The purposes for which you can deduct from a tenant's security deposit are strictly limited by state law or administrative rule.  I am not aware of any state where what you are describing would fly.  You would be in a world of hurt if you tried such a thing here.  I strongly suggest you consult with a local attorney about what is and is not allowed in your state.

Besides, I very much doubt these tenants are violating their lease.  Usually a lease will provide for landlord access with notice.  Many times, it will specifically allow for showing within the last month.  But I have never seen one that requires a tenant to vacate the premises themselves, to clean up, or to remove their pets.

@Sandy Spence I think it's best to not show an apartment until it is 100% ready to rent. You could walk in and find that they stained carpets or have mold in the bathroom or who knows what else. You may have a very clean tenant but they may have painted one of the rooms blue with brown trim (Yes, I have had a tenant do that to one of my apartments). Make sure it's ready to rent before showing it in my opinion. Good luck Sandy. 

For what it is worth, I would let the tenants know that you will apply any means necessary should the dog display aggressive behavior at a showing. 

What I really would do is wait it out and have the place clean and groomed before any showings. Most applicants will be put off by other people's mess, not so much by their own.

Originally posted by @George P. :
Originally posted by @Richard C.:
Originally posted by @George P.:

i'd charge them and keep some of their sec deposit for being difficult, and not allowing you to show/dogs, etc.

but even if you show it, it wont rent. it will look like a mess and even the messy people will complain about it.

 On what possible grounds?  

Be aware that in some state's, improper charges against a tenant's security deposit can result in treble damages.

 because they refuse to honor their lease and prevent you from profiting in your business - causing you a month's loss. wont that work?

 In PA, the security deposit may only be used to pay for damages caused by the tenant after they move out. In some cases it can be put toward unpaid rent and/or fees.

When deductions are made, and itemized statement must be sent to the former tenant with prices for each charge. I wouldn't suggest charging the deposit for "being difficult and not allowing you to do showings."

Some leases specifically state a fee structure for violating a "no pets" clause. If that is the case for the OP, then he may be able to charge that to the security deposit. But from the way I read it the dog seems to be permitted in the apartment (albeit difficult for showings).

I'm going to agree with the majority of posters on this one. You have 2 weeks until they are out. Wait for the apartment to be empty and clean - ready to rent - before showing to potential applicants. You will lose a few days of vacancy but will attract a higher quality tenant.

The ONLY plausible solution is to just wait the two weeks.

Any other solution or idea is no good for MULTIPLE REASONS.

1. Waste of the landlords time. Prospective tenants will be turned off by the mess and hostile environment.

2. The dog is aggressive. Not only can the landlord get bit the prospective tenant or tenant's child can be bit. That is liability you do not need.

3. It's two weeks. Two weeks is a drop in the bucket.

As an alternative, take really good HD pictures and maybe even video of the home once it's vacant and cleaned.  Then when a similar problem arises in the future, you can email your walk through pictures to your prospects. Include square footage and other info.  It's not as good as a live showing but it could help avoid loosing a qualified renter.

Sometimes gentle persuasion works. "You are aware that a future potential landlord might see fit to contact us to inquire about your tenancy and any difficulties that may have arisen; your being cooperative would certainly reflect more favorably."

I'm right on board with Steve I would let them know that if they don't comply and they get contacted by the next landlord the review would be less than glowing. Also I'd make sure you're extra thorough when going through the place with their security deposit. 

@Richard C.

Where does the op say that she is asking the tenants to vacate the premises?  I agree that they should never be required to do this.

@George P. may not be categorically wrong.  If the tenant is out of compliance with the terms of the lease that causes material damages (lost rents), a case could be made for deducting this from the security deposit.  But in this case, it sounds like it's not even close to being worth pursuing.  If the tenant contests the withholding in small claims, you would be at the mercy of a judge who would need to be convinced that you could have rented it faster if the tenant cooperated.  In Utah, if you are able to re-rent a property in 30-45 days, judges aren't very sympathetic to a few weeks of lost rent.

What's more if the tenant challenges and prevails, you now have a judgement against you which may be reflected on credit reports and elsewhere.  Just not worth it.

@Sandy Spence

When you get possession of the property and have it all cleaned up, make sure you shoot a video.  This will minimize showings to window shoppers next time around.

Originally posted by @George P. :

i'd charge them and keep some of their sec deposit for being difficult, and not allowing you to show/dogs, etc.

but even if you show it, it wont rent. it will look like a mess and even the messy people will complain about it.

 Be careful following this advice.  In some states, holding security back for anything other than tenant caused damage may be illegal.

I agree that if you try to show it with other people's mess in it, it won't rent.  Just wait.

Interesting dilemma for sure.

1) Thats interesting that, although that item to allow showings is in the lease that way, there is no recourse for the landlord to enforce it.

For me, I always assume a month's vacancy on turnover. So I rarely try to get showings in before the tenant moves out.

But if your model wants to be able to do that, then I would add a clause in your lease that is explicit in terms of showings.  That at the end of the lease, tenant is required to allow you to show the property to prospective tenants at the following days/times. Any pets on the Premises must be secured in a room.  Should tenant fail to comply with the above, Landlord shall have the right to charge Tenant a $500 charge for non-compliance.

Once you get something like that in there, then you would be able to withhold money from the tenant's security deposit. There are two things you are allowed to withhold security deposit funds for - actual damage OR monies owed by a Tenant.

If a Tenant fails to pay rent for the last month of the lease but leaves the house in perfect condition, you do not have to refund their security deposit and then try to go after the month of unpaid rent.   So I would disagree with the notion that only damage to the property can be applied to the security deposit.

2) In this instance, since you don't have that in the lease, I would threaten the tenant that you are going to withhold $500 for failing to comply with the lease terms and allow you to enter in a safely controlled environment (i.e put your dog up).  I'm not saying you should actually withhold the money. Just threaten them.  

Also let them know if the dog is aggressive and does anything, you will be pressing charges against them and the dog may be removed from their care if it attacks someone.  See if those two things get them to change their tune.

Lastly, you can let them know that if anyone calls to check their rental history for any future rentalls, you will not be providing a good reference.

At this point, I don't think there's much you can really do other than see if you can outwit them a bit. They might budge at the thought of you withholding money from their security deposit. Again, I'm not suggesting you actually do that (the treble damage thing is possible).  But not many renters would want to risk it - especially since their lease states that you should be allowed access to the home. And a "reasonable" person would have to believe that would mean providing a safe entry by securing the dog appropriately. When it comes to legal disputes, that "reasonable" rule is typically pretty well adhered to. So even if you wouldn't win, its a good enough seed to plant in their head that you might.....

Also, I might be inclined to call and give them their 24 notice that you're coming for a showing every other night and then simply no show - just to keep them on edge a bit and make things difficult for them since they're being difficult with you.

That said, I don't know if I've ever thought it was right to do showings while the tenant is there - as long as they've paid their rent current. After all, they paid to have that home for that period of time without any intrusion. 

I also don't believe that clause of 24 hours notice for entry is really applicable when it comes to showings. That clause is more for repairs and/or inspections. I think the intent with that is that YOU are going to want to access the property (presumably to check on the condition of the property). Not that YOU and a BUNCH of strangers are going to be coming thru the house.......

So for me, I would make some threats on what you might do to see if they work with you a little more.  Maybe you could agree to one or two days of showings only. If they still won't budge,  I might consider the no show showings just because they are being difficult.  But ultimately, I would definitely NOT do any showings until they are out. 

In the future, maybe add a clause in the lease that is more specific to showings and what the penalty is if they don't comply.

I've been down this road before. What I've learned is not to argue with a hostile tenant; they only make everyone miserable. If this tenant is leaving in 2 weeks, just wait it out. 

Or...you can offer them a return of their security deposit on the day they leave, instead of waiting the 15 or 30 days your state law requires, only *IF* they cooperate with showings. 

Otherwise, let them know they'll have to wait the full amount of time per the law to get back that presumably sizable chunk of change (minus any damage charges).

Hi Sandy,

I'm not an attorney but I recommend continuing to follow the guidelines of the lease and rider (if any). I also recommend you say this to the tenants: "Will you need a positive landlord letter of recommendation for your next rental?" That will have them remember that they need YOU in their rental future, not the other way around. That should get them to wise up :)

Best,

Barry

Originally posted by @James Wise :

The ONLY plausible solution is to just wait the two weeks.

Any other solution or idea is no good for MULTIPLE REASONS.

1. Waste of the landlords time. Prospective tenants will be turned off by the mess and hostile environment.

2. The dog is aggressive. Not only can the landlord get bit the prospective tenant or tenant's child can be bit. That is liability you do not need.

3. It's two weeks. Two weeks is a drop in the bucket.

Exactly.

FWIW, I've pretty much always show units with the current tenants in it. To make it easier on the current tenants, I offer to make the bedroom(s) off limits. They take me up on it about 50% of the time. For the prospective tenant, I say, "I won't be showing you the bedrooms because I want the current residents to maintain some privacy." I've also got a series of pictures that show all rooms, generally with nice furniture in them. :) Win with the current tenants, "good landlord" points for the new tenant. Not much help for the OP current situation, but this has worked well for me.
Originally posted by @Rob Beland :

@Sandy Spence I think it's best to not show an apartment until it is 100% ready to rent. You could walk in and find that they stained carpets or have mold in the bathroom or who knows what else. You may have a very clean tenant but they may have painted one of the rooms blue with brown trim (Yes, I have had a tenant do that to one of my apartments). Make sure it's ready to rent before showing it in my opinion. Good luck Sandy. 

 Rob:

We normally have our units shown and rented before the current tenant moves out.  In this past three years, I've even rented four units which were under renovation - one in a state of near gut - when I showed them to the tenants.

That said, in a hostile situation as depicted by the OP and with only two weeks left, I'd also wait.

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