Is a skunk in the yard my responsibility?

28 Replies

The tenant thinks I'm responsible to pay to trap a skunk that's bothering them by hanging out stinking up the yard and messing with their cat .  Seems a stretch to me, but the wife said if it were rats in the yard we'd feel responsible.  Thoughts?

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Get rid of the headache. If you can make the tenants happy for cheap you are probably better off just paying instead of arguing over who is supposed to pay. I guess the real question you have to ask is are they good tenants or not?

Be sure to ask Animal Control to advise on how to keep skunks away. Skunks LOVE cat food and if there is cat food out at night the cats will sit by and watch the skunks devour their food.  Skunks are relatively peaceful unless its skunk mating season then there is drama. 

Skunks also LOVE a nice hiding place with food and water nearby. Under your house if perfect for them. Its like their own personal bed and breakfast. Check the foundation vents and be sure they are all sealed correctly and vents dont have holes in them. A skunk can fit through a surprisingly small hole. If they spray under the house be prepared to have a hard time with your tenants. 

How do I know all of this? It happened to me.

I second the skunk and cat food.   Are your tenants keeping the cat food outside?  If so, they are enticing  the skunk into the yard.  Ditto for fruit that has fallen off of trees.   Also, advise your tenants to keep a tight lid on their trash cans.  Skunks like to go into trash cans after food.   If they cannot climb back out, you have one angry skunk.  Ask me how I know!

@Johann Jells If its MF, maybe. If its SFH, heck no. Tell them to call and deal with animal control or whoever else. You didn't send the skunk, nothing of your asset is causing the skunk to be there, its not your problem. Just like a neighbor with loud music.

It doesn't have to be a 'headache' to get rid of like others suggest. Its not your problem, its nature, tell them to figure it out or direct them to the resources to do so.

@Matthew Olszak , It is a MF, but the ground floor uses the yard the most.  @Bettina F. , good point about fruit, there are peach trees there, but in the 13 years I've owned the place this is the 1st issue with skunks. The neighbor also has a sump pump dumping water in his backyard even when it's been dry, I have no idea why. He probably has a leak, we're at the top of the Palisades so groundwater is unlikely.

I don't feel a landlord can be responsible for wildlife as long as the property is maintained. Animals will come and go and there not a lot anyone can do about it.

But, pick your battles. Might be worth doing something if you can.

It'd probably be cheaper for you to remove the skunk then have to deal with finding new tenants. I had a skunk problem at a previous place where I was the tenant, it wasn't THE reason I moved, but it did play a factor in it. 

@Johann Jells ,

I don't what your state laws are about wildlife, but I'm sorry-- this is nature.   Your best option IMO is to call animal control and see if they will deal with it for free.   They don't get it the first time, call it again-- that's one of the reasons you pay taxes!   Looking for another cheap option, pay a friend $10 to do some target practice outside...    

I'm guessing there's not just 1, but many skunks around, so theoretically, are you going to pay for all pests outside the house-- how about a deer, or a chipmunk?  see how ridiculous it starts to sound?    Your job as a landlord is to provide a clean, habitable house-- use their rat example, if the skunk was inside-- 100% yes, but ps.  the skunk is outside.. that's called nature,....  rats in the yard--- YARD!   I'm sure there are lots of bugs and roaches, rats, etc,.. outside.. your job isn't to make outside habitable, it's the HOUSE-- inside the house, their living area! 

Just my 2 cents, it sounds ridiculous, good/bad tenants, to pay to have it removed, because there will be more animals coming, and if you pay for 1 removal.. you have no grounds to not pay for the next, uphill battle i wouldn't pick.  

Originally posted by @Linda D.:

Your job as a landlord is to provide a clean, habitable house-- use their rat example, if the skunk was inside-- 100% yes, but ps. the skunk is outside.. that's called nature,.... rats in the yard--- YARD! I'm sure there are lots of bugs and roaches, rats, etc,.. outside.. your job isn't to make outside habitable, it's the HOUSE-- inside the house, their living area!.  

 Yes, that was my first response too. But occasionally my gut is wrong so I thought it worth asking the gallery.

@Johann Jells ,

As I was reading,  I think you did say it's a MF, so I'd ask other tenants how they're doing, do a "check in" to see if it's a problem .. does anyone else notice it?      I'd absolutely try all your free/cheap options first, and have animal control do the dirty work, either have the tenants call, or you call and make sure the tenants know you are being proactive about the situation.  Good luck! 

It's the saying "don't fight for your rights, fight to get it right" or "don't be penny smart and dollar foolish". The point is that you have a good paying tenant, so keep them happy ;-) 

So I have had a fair number of animal problems, beavers squirrels,bats, raccoons. In the house,under the house, or damaging the house it is your issue, otherwise it is theirs. If a snake or another cat was messing with thier cat they would need to restrict the cat, same goes for a skunk. Animal control is an option but they won't always come, in our area they only pick up diseased animals. They will counsel the tenants on what to do/Not do. Racoon removal was about $300, beaver is free removal in the fall only. My guess is a skunk Animal control may intervene in the city. However I suspect there is something attracting the skunk like food. No food they will go somewhere else. keep the cat and cat food in for a bit and see if it helps. Also it is on you to eliminate anything like logs and burrows. that may provide good shelter if you also want them gone.

You said the tenants have cats right? And most likely they keep cat food outside. So, it's actually the tenants fault for keeping cat food outside. Most wild animals like that are attracted to the food people leave out.

There's no cat food being left outside, it's probably the peach trees attracting the skunk. Years ago we left cat food out for a feral and found possums eating it! 

Good point was made about where does it stop. If they complained about the mosquitoes that plague that yard am I responsible too, beyond making sure there's no open water sources on the property?

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