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How to Handle Pet-Related Complaints

December 4, 2022

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Handling Pet Related Complaints

Landlords have to deal with different kinds of complaints. It’s a part of the job. 

Some complaints involve pets.  

These complaints could be for noise, damage, excessive hair in common areas, and a host of other things. 

A pet complaint doesn’t have to be a nightmare for you, though. 

By following the tips outlined in this article, you can handle each complaint the best way possible and make your tenants feel secure in the process. 

Learn About the Complaint 

Once you understand the severity of the complaint, it’s to learn more about what’s going on. There are a few steps you should take to make sure you get all the information you need. 

Listen Carefully 

It’s important that you take the time to listen thoroughly when a tenant approaches you with a complaint. Don’t brush them off, interrupt them as they talk, or try to make light of the situation. Instead, listen and gather as much information about the circumstances as you can. Ask questions to learn more about the issue, and don’t be afraid to ask the tenant to explain their concerns to you again if you’re having trouble understanding the issue. 

Determine the Severity of the Complaint 

Now you need to figure out how serious the complaint is. Often, pet complaints can be things that don’t require your immediate attention but are legitimate issues (this could be a pet noise complaint like incessant barking). 

Emergencies, on the other hand, are immediate threats and must be addressed right away. If an animal injures a person or another pet, that constitutes an emergency. This could also involve an illegal exotic animal on the premises or a pet that is loose and scaring neighbors.  

But, as we just mentioned, most complaints will be legitimate without requiring action right away. Loud noises and intense pet odors are obviously problems you want to address in a timely manner. The key here is to take care of these problems as soon as possible to show tenants you care. They don’t need require you to drop everything you’re doing like emergencies, though. 

Lastly, there are certain complaints that are low priority. If someone complains about pet hair in a common area or a dog that barks occasionally at a passing car, that isn’t something that should shoot to the top of your to-do list. You want to take peoples’ issues seriously, but don’t allow every complaint to absorb your valuable time and attention. 

Take Action 

For most situations, you’ll want to investigate to gather all the facts before settling on a course of action. For instance, a tenant may complain about a dog’s incessant barking, and the dog is only barking once or twice a day. This is why it’s critical to check with the owner of the pet to let them know about the complaint and get their side of the story. They may be unaware of the issue and once it’s brought to their attention, they can find a way to take care of the issue without your involvement. 

It’s also important to find out if the complaint against the animal involves the tenant being in violation of the pet policy in their lease. If they’re in violation of the lease terms, then you can take action in direct proportion to the terms of the lease and applicable state laws. 

Also, keep track of complaints. If a particular pet continues to receive complaints, that could be a sign more intense action needs to be taken. Typically, though, you’ll want to follow a pattern like the one below: 

  1. First issue: Give the tenant a warning. 
  1. Second issue: Fine the tenant. 
  1. Third issue: Fine the tenant and provide notice that consequences will be more severe next time. 
  1. Fourth issue: Now you may need to consider starting the eviction process. 
     

For low-priority situations (think pet hair complaints) the solution may be a bit less straightforward. In most instances, though, you want to start with simple fixes and hope those take care of the issue. If excessive pet hair in shared areas is the issue, for instance, you may want to ask the cleaners to be more thorough in those areas. Take each issue on a case-by-case basis unless they’re directly related. And, if possible, start with simple solutions and work up to more complex ones. 

Conclusion 

Pet complaints can cause landlords headaches, but they don’t have to. While no one loves dealing with complaints, the tips in this article will help you deal with pet complaints in the most straightforward way possible. 

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