Nightmare tenant: unsanitary living, too many dogs

42 Replies

Okay, so I have a couple that lives in my 4 plex that have been an absolute nightmare. So far they have consistently paid late and have been a nuisance with their dog (dogs) barking and making noise. They got on a one year lease in July a couple months before I purchased the property so they have 6 months to go now.

I am having the windows replaced and today the contractor got into their apartment (with proper 24 hours notice) and he found the place absolutely covered in dog urine and feces and instead of having one dog like they said they have 2 adult dogs, 2 puppies, and two cats living there unsupervised during the day and it's an absolute mess. It was bad enough that the contractor decided against using drop cloths on the floor since it would just soak up the multiple puddles of dog pee.

So I'm faced with a dilemma: do I give them a warning and have a frank conversation with them about their living conditions and possibly set up to inspect once a month to make sure it's staying fixed or do I head full steam towards evicting them? 

My major concern right now is that eviction would entail re-renting at a reduced rate since Alaska is in a bit of a recession, renovation costs right now, and renting during the winter is an issue. On the other hand if they stay they could still be doing damage but just cleaning up before inspection and if the dog mess is seeping through the laminate floor it could be damaging obviously the laminate but possibly even the subfloor which would cause a major cost in repair.

So, which route would you guys take? 

Originally posted by @Gabe N. :

Okay, so I have a couple that lives in my 4 plex that have been an absolute nightmare. So far they have consistently paid late and have been a nuisance with their dog (dogs) barking and making noise. They got on a one year lease in July a couple months before I purchased the property so they have 6 months to go now.

I am having the windows replaced and today the contractor got into their apartment (with proper 24 hours notice) and he found the place absolutely covered in dog urine and feces and instead of having one dog like they said they have 2 adult dogs, 2 puppies, and two cats living there unsupervised during the day and it's an absolute mess. It was bad enough that the contractor decided against using drop cloths on the floor since it would just soak up the multiple puddles of dog pee.

So I'm faced with a dilemma: do I give them a warning and have a frank conversation with them about their living conditions and possibly set up to inspect once a month to make sure it's staying fixed or do I head full steam towards evicting them? 

My major concern right now is that eviction would entail re-renting at a reduced rate since Alaska is in a bit of a recession, renovation costs right now, and renting during the winter is an issue. On the other hand if they stay they could still be doing damage but just cleaning up before inspection and if the dog mess is seeping through the laminate floor it could be damaging obviously the laminate but possibly even the subfloor which would cause a major cost in repair.

So, which route would you guys take? 

 At this point you are trying to avoid getting wet after already jumping in the pool. The damage is done my man, so long as the health department isn't involved you should just keep cashing those checks as long as they are coming in. Your going to have a hefty renovation on your hands when these folks leave. No sense rushing into that bill right now.

James Wise, Real Estate Agent in OH (#2015001161)
216-661-6633
Evict the extra dogs, serve notice on all areas of noncompliance. They will take awhile to get out anyway so start with demanding they follow the lease. You could lose good tenants in other units if you dont address. Any complaints on barking you may be able to get animal control to cite them, depends on your area though.

You should site them on breaking lease guidelines and force them to become compliant with your lease guidelines, IE. getting rid of all animals but 1 dog.

Sounds like there is already damage to the unit so you can site them on that as well. Document it all and take pictures. 6 months can be a long time with a tenant of this nature...

good luck

Chris

Awesome, thanks for the advice everybody!

I do agree that I'm pretty much stuck with them for the meanwhile unless I want to go through eviction and repairing damage now which would be costly. I'll have to have them remedy the issue and have an uncomfortable talk with them about this issue.

The other problem I face is how can I ensure that they are not going to continue this behavior? I know I can't always police them but should I set up regular inspections? I would think that they would just clean up and move the animals for the inspection day and be right back to their shenanigans.

Its only a matter of time till the smells affect the other units . Its gonna cost you one way or another . The faster they are out , the faster you can get it done and re rented . 

I would just notice them that you will be by and show up early so you can see them leading the dogs away. Alternately Install outdoor cameras to see dog comings and goings. Encourage the other units to call animal control when they complain to you about the dogs. It has to be uncomfortable for them to keep living like this and breaking the lease. If they dont stop the behavior they need to take it somewhere else so if they cant comply discuss the move out plan.

You are wasting your time and extremely knave in believing you can even slightly correct these tenant behaviour. I assume you are a new landlord.

You should have started the path to eviction the first time they paid late. You have grounds to evict and should do so. Or not, it is you property and your risk but for certain they are going to continue to do more damage.

Pay now or pay more later...your choice.

they are going to continue their behavior

I lived out in Wasilla for 14 years. Evictions are supposed to be no picnic in AK. 

Originally posted by @Thomas S. :

You are wasting your time and extremely knave in believing you can even slightly correct these tenant behaviour. I assume you are a new landlord.

You should have started the path to eviction the first time they paid late. You have grounds to evict and should do so. Or not, it is you property and your risk but for certain they are going to continue to do more damage.

Pay now or pay more later...your choice.

 Thanks for your input and yes I am a new landlord. 

While they have paid late, Alaska allows a 5 day “grace period” and they have always paid within that window so that does not make grounds for eviction. 

I would love to evict them but not only would it be costly but they have the opportunity to correct which would make me unable to proceed with eviction. In Alaska you have to post a cure or quit notice that gives 7 days to cure the problem. If they have cleaned up and keep the dogs elsewhere when I inspect then they pass and I have no grounds for eviction. 

Month-to-month leases are seeming much more attractive now...

Eviction, now.   Why stand by and wait for more damage.  It's going to take time to rehab the place, wouldn't you rather be rehabbing during the slow time, than rehabbing when other properties are being rented easily?

Evict. Do not be attached to the measly check coming in. If they end up destroying the sub floor, after all is said and done you won’t even break even when they leave in July. Get them out, renovate, and have it ready for the spring. Make sure to look carefully at how you are screening tenants, as you could use the same methods as before and attract the same type of people.

The first route I take is to not allow pets, for the very reasons you are experiencing.

Cats are worse than dogs. They often pee to mark territory and their urine is much more concentrated than dogs. Cat pee can sink into the joists or concrete and the smell might never come out.

The problem with dogs are dog owners. All dogs can be trained to respect property. Humans are much harder to train.

I've tried allowing dogs and because of the way some people treat animals, I just say no. Want a pet? Go buy your own house.

I'm a cat person. I have two. The one just puked at my feet while I was writing this. Thanks kitty. I'm very lucky and have cats that do not mark the house. Any cat that marks gets evicted. I love dogs too, but prefer other peoples dogs to having one myself.

IMO, you are trying to juggle policy a bit. If you allow pets, expect what you are getting. If you don't want what you're getting, don't allow pets.

@Gabe N. between the late payments, extra dog and total disregard for sanitary living conditions, there is no hope here. The damage will continue and will get worse, so don't believe "the damage is already done". 

I would give notice to correct the problem and place them on a strict inspection schedule. They may be able to clean and cover up the smell, but at least if you are in there regularly, you can make sure it isn't getting worse. Let them know that they can break their lease and leave. Maybe the inspections will annoy them and they will just look for a new place. Be very picky in your inspections, photograph and write up every violation. Document for eviction purposes.

Having a vacant unit is better than having problems like this continue. I have learned that lesson the hard way.

You potentially have a tough road ahead of you regardless of the direction you go.

It will get more expensive the longer you wait.

Sealing a sub floor is cheaper than replacing.

Remember if it gets to bad you are at risk of loosing more than just that tenant.

Oder has a way of creeping throughout, I would hate to see you have to do more work than on just the one unit.

As much of a pain as the eviction process is, getter done.

541-613-7136

@Gabe N. ,

Kick the extra dogs/cat out ASAP--- the tenants will likely follow.     

We had an unfortunate but very similar situation, when we demanded the cat leave--- they told me I was "Breaking up a family, and they'd be out at the end of the month" so if you demand all extra animals be removed in a stated period (ie; 3 days-- sorry, animals don't have tenant rights).. good chance they will follow.     If they don't, offer a cash for keys and kick them out ASAP.  If they don't accept cash for keys, then do the eviction.   Time is your enemy with urine, especially cat urine!!

Make sure to kick them out soon enough to have their security deposit cover cleaning materials.. the longer they are in there, the more urine, poop,etc will be destroying your property!!!

Send them a Cure Notice that documents that you are aware that they have more dogs than are on the lease, and that if not "Cured" (corrected) within the cure period (usually 3 days), then a Pet fee of $XXX will be imposed and due immediately.

Send them a separate Cure Notice for the condition of the property.  They are responsible for maintaining the property to ensure that everything is sanitary.  State in it that you will be inspecting a day after the Cure Period is over.

If neither one of these Cure Notices are acknowledged, then start eviction proceedings due to breach of contract.

The main point here is whatever you do, you have to have a process, and you have to document it.  Think of it this way.... You have to be able to document your progression to the Judge....because ultimately if you end up in court to evict, the Judge is going to look to you (the big bad landlord), and want to know that you have good reason to evict the them (the poor, soon-to-be homeless Tenants).

Originally posted by @James Wise :
Originally posted by @Gabe N.:

Okay, so I have a couple that lives in my 4 plex that have been an absolute nightmare. So far they have consistently paid late and have been a nuisance with their dog (dogs) barking and making noise. They got on a one year lease in July a couple months before I purchased the property so they have 6 months to go now.

I am having the windows replaced and today the contractor got into their apartment (with proper 24 hours notice) and he found the place absolutely covered in dog urine and feces and instead of having one dog like they said they have 2 adult dogs, 2 puppies, and two cats living there unsupervised during the day and it's an absolute mess. It was bad enough that the contractor decided against using drop cloths on the floor since it would just soak up the multiple puddles of dog pee.

So I'm faced with a dilemma: do I give them a warning and have a frank conversation with them about their living conditions and possibly set up to inspect once a month to make sure it's staying fixed or do I head full steam towards evicting them? 

My major concern right now is that eviction would entail re-renting at a reduced rate since Alaska is in a bit of a recession, renovation costs right now, and renting during the winter is an issue. On the other hand if they stay they could still be doing damage but just cleaning up before inspection and if the dog mess is seeping through the laminate floor it could be damaging obviously the laminate but possibly even the subfloor which would cause a major cost in repair.

So, which route would you guys take? 

 At this point you are trying to avoid getting wet after already jumping in the pool. The damage is done my man, so long as the health department isn't involved you should just keep cashing those checks as long as they are coming in. Your going to have a hefty renovation on your hands when these folks leave. No sense rushing into that bill right now.

 This is somewhat shocking to read....and you are a property manager, and this is what you would recommend to your clients??!

2 new puppies grow up to be 2 big dogs, which would mean 4 big dogs total!  There is alot more involved the longer you let it go.  So I am shocked to hear your take on this.  

You must not have ever watched Pacific Heights.  Things can always get worse the longer you wait.

Originally posted by @Cara Lonsdale :
Originally posted by @James Wise:
Originally posted by @Gabe N.:

Okay, so I have a couple that lives in my 4 plex that have been an absolute nightmare. So far they have consistently paid late and have been a nuisance with their dog (dogs) barking and making noise. They got on a one year lease in July a couple months before I purchased the property so they have 6 months to go now.

I am having the windows replaced and today the contractor got into their apartment (with proper 24 hours notice) and he found the place absolutely covered in dog urine and feces and instead of having one dog like they said they have 2 adult dogs, 2 puppies, and two cats living there unsupervised during the day and it's an absolute mess. It was bad enough that the contractor decided against using drop cloths on the floor since it would just soak up the multiple puddles of dog pee.

So I'm faced with a dilemma: do I give them a warning and have a frank conversation with them about their living conditions and possibly set up to inspect once a month to make sure it's staying fixed or do I head full steam towards evicting them? 

My major concern right now is that eviction would entail re-renting at a reduced rate since Alaska is in a bit of a recession, renovation costs right now, and renting during the winter is an issue. On the other hand if they stay they could still be doing damage but just cleaning up before inspection and if the dog mess is seeping through the laminate floor it could be damaging obviously the laminate but possibly even the subfloor which would cause a major cost in repair.

So, which route would you guys take? 

 At this point you are trying to avoid getting wet after already jumping in the pool. The damage is done my man, so long as the health department isn't involved you should just keep cashing those checks as long as they are coming in. Your going to have a hefty renovation on your hands when these folks leave. No sense rushing into that bill right now.

 This is somewhat shocking to read....and you are a property manager, and this is what you would recommend to your clients??!

2 new puppies grow up to be 2 big dogs, which would mean 4 big dogs total!  There is alot more involved the longer you let it go.  So I am shocked to hear your take on this.  

You must not have ever watched Pacific Heights.  Things can always get worse the longer you wait.

 No clue what Pacific Heights is. Is this a property management show or something? I don't need to watch a property management show, my life is a property management show, lol.

The cost to move the tenants out prematurely does not justify the potential repair savings as damage is already done. Think about it, You probably have a $10,000 reno on your hands. If you keep on collecting that rent how much higher than $10,000 is that reno really going to cost? Is it going to cover the legal fees, missed rent, leasing fees, missed opportunity cost spending time closing a current income stream instead of finding a new one? On top of that the devil you know might not be as bad as the one you don't. You could incur all of those costs then simply place a new tenant who does the same thing, or worse doesn't pay rent.

Landlords need to look long & hard before they decide to evict a paying tenant. It's not about what's right or wrong. It's about removing emotion & analyzing the situation from a purely financial view point.

James Wise, Real Estate Agent in OH (#2015001161)
216-661-6633

@Gabe N. - EVICT or CFK. Do it yesterday.

My last tenant had a dog who I think was pooping on the floor. I didn't see any urine but on the occasional visit I would see poop on my (BRAND NEW HARDWOOD) floor. Then they stopped paying on time. I started the eviction process twice, and they knew the game -- if they paid the rent/late charge/legal fee before the court date, I couldn't evict. I tried to CFK multiple times, they would skirt my conversations or not answer the phone, or not answer the door, or say they couldn't talk unless the other tenant was home. All the runaround. Then when their lease ended (mercifully), I had a house that smelled like stale dog poop and I am fairly certain it attracted mice, who would then die UNDER MY SUBFLOOR and it added to the smell. Long story short, I decided to cut bait on the house because the numbers didn't work, but also the underlying smell problem would prevent me from now renting to another tenant. I refused to put in thousands of dollars to try and correct a whole house smell problem, which would have included ripping out destroyed hardwoods and subflooring.

@Merritt Steinbach made a great point about the problem with dogs (and cats in some cases) are the owners. I love animals, but the MOMENT you caught ANY issue -- OUT. OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT. I too will likely NEVER allow pets for the same reason. They are not mine and I cannot trust their care and upkeep will be given the same attention I would give them.

Your other tenants have ALREADY complained. You have a costly reno on the horizon. Do you not see the atomic bomb slowly exploding in front of your eyes? Your bad tenant WILL spiral because they continue to allow this problem to occur (and I think its a signal they've lost control of their lives, in some way), they will continue to pay late or not at all, then you have a hostile tenant refusing to leave because you are a PUSHOVER. Your other tenants will either get angry about the dog barking and take it out on you, in the form of non-payment or worse, and then the SMELL will permeate from there.

I'm begging you...learn from my mistake. In a few months you will have an EMPTY residence, a major renovation needed, un-rentable units because of a permeating smell, and the bank wants their mortgage payment on the first of the month.

Gabe, I hope you don't take this as a rude response. But if I knew you, I'd give you a swift slap across the face -- this is TOXIC, both literally and figuratively. You need to take serious action, and should have already done this at the first sign of trouble. A dog who poops on the floor once is not going to fix the problem itself. A cat who marks their territory might as well be out on the streets because THEY WILL DO IT OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

"This is somewhat shocking to read....and you are a property manager, and this is what you would recommend to your clients??!"

Also as a side not guys, that's how you know your PM has your back. All those costs I outlined in my above pose, you know the ones that I am telling you to AVOID....Yea, those all go right into my pocket. Kinda like asking your barber if you need a haircut. Is he telling you yes for him or for you?

  • You want to evict your tenant? Revenue for PM.
  • You need to renovate your unit? Revenue for PM.
  • You need to release your unit? Revenue for PM.
James Wise, Real Estate Agent in OH (#2015001161)
216-661-6633
Originally posted by @James Wise :
Originally posted by @Cara Lonsdale:
Originally posted by @James Wise:
Originally posted by @Gabe N.:

Okay, so I have a couple that lives in my 4 plex that have been an absolute nightmare. So far they have consistently paid late and have been a nuisance with their dog (dogs) barking and making noise. They got on a one year lease in July a couple months before I purchased the property so they have 6 months to go now.

I am having the windows replaced and today the contractor got into their apartment (with proper 24 hours notice) and he found the place absolutely covered in dog urine and feces and instead of having one dog like they said they have 2 adult dogs, 2 puppies, and two cats living there unsupervised during the day and it's an absolute mess. It was bad enough that the contractor decided against using drop cloths on the floor since it would just soak up the multiple puddles of dog pee.

So I'm faced with a dilemma: do I give them a warning and have a frank conversation with them about their living conditions and possibly set up to inspect once a month to make sure it's staying fixed or do I head full steam towards evicting them? 

My major concern right now is that eviction would entail re-renting at a reduced rate since Alaska is in a bit of a recession, renovation costs right now, and renting during the winter is an issue. On the other hand if they stay they could still be doing damage but just cleaning up before inspection and if the dog mess is seeping through the laminate floor it could be damaging obviously the laminate but possibly even the subfloor which would cause a major cost in repair.

So, which route would you guys take? 

 At this point you are trying to avoid getting wet after already jumping in the pool. The damage is done my man, so long as the health department isn't involved you should just keep cashing those checks as long as they are coming in. Your going to have a hefty renovation on your hands when these folks leave. No sense rushing into that bill right now.

 This is somewhat shocking to read....and you are a property manager, and this is what you would recommend to your clients??!

2 new puppies grow up to be 2 big dogs, which would mean 4 big dogs total!  There is alot more involved the longer you let it go.  So I am shocked to hear your take on this.  

You must not have ever watched Pacific Heights.  Things can always get worse the longer you wait.

 No clue what Pacific Heights is. Is this a property management show or something? I don't need to watch a property management show, my life is a property management show, lol.

The cost to move the tenants out prematurely does not justify the potential repair savings as damage is already done. Think about it, You probably have a $10,000 reno on your hands. If you keep on collecting that rent how much higher than $10,000 is that reno really going to cost? Is it going to cover the legal fees, missed rent, leasing fees, missed opportunity cost spending time closing a current income stream instead of finding a new one? On top of that the devil you know might not be as bad as the one you don't. You could incur all of those costs then simply place a new tenant who does the same thing, or worse doesn't pay rent.

Landlords need to look long & hard before they decide to evict a paying tenant. It's not about what's right or wrong. It's about removing emotion & analyzing the situation from a purely financial view point.

James -- if he loses the other tenants and has a poop/urine smell that permeates throughout the entire property, don't you think 10,000 is a fraction of the true figure?

I agree that you need to remove emotion and look at facts -- so look at them. He has a destroyed unit, a tenant breaking lease rules, a tenant seemingly out of control, a tenant paying late, and compliant/good tenants who are now complaining about conditions in another unit.

He has 6 months remaining on the bad tenants lease. SIX MONTHS. That's six months more of a dog pooping everywhere, apparently stray animals, late/non-payments, etc.

If I were him, I'd try CFK and get them out ASAP. Do the reno. Keep my existing tenants (and show them I am not going to put up with that garbage, nor am I going to allow their maintained properties to fall into disarray) If it meant not receiving rent for a few months, well, tough. That's why we build in a vacancy percentage in our expenses.

I'm sorry -- the more I flesh this out, just looking at pure facts and what could happen -- this is disastrous. He should cut bait immediately.

Side note: this is why I only close on vacant properties. Most problem properties, if they're not a victim of circumstance (i.e. in a bad neighborhood or next to the city dump) are problems because of the way the landlord has run the property and because of the tenants that have been placed into the property. You bought a lemon, at least in 25% of the cases (1 out of 4 units). A major - if not THE major - factor in successful landlording is tenant placement. Place the wrong people = lots of problems and lots of money. 

Anyway, if it were me, I would have put them on notice on the first late payment and started eviction proceedings for any infraction thereafter. That would include having more than 1 dog. 

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