Thursday, October 12, 2006

Guest Blogger: Pete's dog situation

Today we have a guest blogger, Pete from Visualize Milwaukee. He will actually be in court tomorrow for eviction proceedings relating to problems with his tenant's unwanted dog. I want to thank Pete for sharing this story, and I hope everything works out for him.

Rick’s dog issues were very similar to a problem I am having with a tenant now. The tenant is my on-site manager in a multi-unit building. They approached me in January about wanting a dog. I told them their lease forbids dogs without written permission and that I am not too keen on dogs. They persisted (“You know we keep a clean place”, “You already trust us, we’d be great dog owners”…), so I told them I would allow a dog under these circumstances:

  1. we sign a 1-year lease

  2. we sign a pet-amendment to the lease

  3. they provide an additional $200 pet-deposit

  4. a pet-rider at $50/month

  5. I could terminate the pet-rider at any time

They balked at that, so I figured I didn’t have to worry about it anymore! So, September rolls around and I get a call from another very upset tenant. After calming them down (why do I have to play therapist for my tenants?), they tell me that there was a dog running around in the hallway. The dog apparently chased/followed their young child and got its leg caught in the main entry door. The owners of this dog came out and started cussing at this tenant for hurting their dog, and that they are going to have to pay the vet bills for his broken leg! So, as the landlord, what do I do?

The dog owners a) didn’t tell me about the dog b) broke their lease c) were not controlling their dog and d) were threatening other tenants over it!

Well, it turns out the dog was a birthday gift (from my on-site manager), so what could they do about it? I’d understand right? They offered to pay $50 extra per month and a $100 deposit. I wanted to keep a generally good tenant who was helping me take care of the place. When I called them, the dog owner was still blaming the other tenant because the dog got out on accident!

After all that, I finally decided the only thing I could do was give them a 5-day Notice of Lease Violation. They had 5 days to get the dog out or move out. They called and said they’d move out before the end of the month (which was 2 weeks away). I figured that would be better than going through an eviction, right? Well, wrong. On the 1st they were still there with the dog, and had told another tenant they weren’t leaving. I filed for eviction last week. The tenant called and cussed me out on the phone. We’ll see what happens. The court date is tomorrow, Friday the 13th.

Part of me says, “Well, if I just allowed pets I wouldn’t be going through this mess.” But, in reality, I know this would be more of a problem if I did. I have had complaints from 3 tenants, I’ve had their dog chase a tenant, and I’ve had the dog owners threaten others rather than take responsibility for their own pet. So, in the end, I think I’ll keep the no-pet policy. What about that pet-rider though? I’ll have to rethink that too.


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