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Tip #277: Enough Already!

 Noise complaints come in many varieties. Yelling, music, stomping, and dogs usually top the list.

Many of these are rectified with quiet hour policies. However, a barking dog can be a much harder issue to resolve because the culprit has no understanding of the house rules.

Landlords can pre-screen pets, but the size of the dog really doesn’t matter. Small dogs can be louder than big ones. The number of dogs is usually irrelevant, too. One owner may have five dogs that never bark, while their neighbor has just one that barks all day.

If you allow dogs and you are dealing with complaints from tenants over barking, here’s some advice on how to approach this subject:

1. Generally the first step to take is to ask complaining tenants to keep an open mind, despite their frustration. They may be pleasantly surprised that, when approached in a calm, civil manner, the dog owner is more than willing to work with them. In fact, they may not even be aware that the barking is bothering the neighbors, or may not realize the dog is barking because it only does it while they are away.

2. Encourage the tenant who is complaining to start a journal documenting the noise. What time did the barking start? How long did it last? Was it just an occasional bark when someone walks by, or is the dog barking incessantly?

3. Find out if other tenants are being bothered by the noise.

4. It’s important to approach the dog owner with a sensitive demeanor and keep in mind that most, if not all dog owners view their dog as a member of the family and treat them much like their own child. The owner is likely to be defensive and upset too aggressive of an approach, and that will make them less cooperative. Remember, they may not even be aware of the situation.

5. If the barking persists, and the owner just won’t cooperate, there are a number of legal actions one can take. You can contact the local police or the animal control for assistance. In extreme cases, an eviction action may be brought against the owner, who will then have to choose between their noisy animal and their current home.

Every renter is entitled to a safe, quiet living environment and barking dogs are easy enough to deal with if you approach the problem the right way.

See last week’s Landlord Quick Tip.

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