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Can my barking dog get me evicted?

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Question:

My neighbor is threatening to complain to my rental building's management company about my barking dog (he barks a lot, but we're trying to work on it with a trainer). Could I get evicted for something like that? What can I do?

Answer:

The quick answer is yes, according to our experts. But the likelihood of your being displaced because of Fido's antics is low.

"Whether you're rent stabilized or market rate, you can, theoretically, be evicted for causing a nuisance," says Sam Himmelstein, a lawyer who represents residential and commercial tenants and tenant associations (and a Brick Underground sponsor).

Now, in a market-rate apartment, the landlord could, instead of dealing with a long eviction process, just choose not renew your lease, and he would not have to give a reason why.

In a stabilized apartment, on the other hand, an issue like this could give your landlord a rarely seen opening.

"This is one of the few grounds on which a stabilized tenant can be evicted," Himmelstein says. "Usually they’re able to get a perpetual lease."

Another lawyer, Jeff Streich with Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas, adds, "If the tenant’s pet is creating a condition that is preventing the neighbor from using all or a portion of his or her property due to the noise the dog is creating, the neighbor could have an action against the landlord and the landlord, in turn, could have recourse against the tenant/pet owner."

But if you deal with the situation at hand, it's unlikely to get to a point where you're kicked out.

"In every nuisance case where conduct isn’t really severe, if you take remedial steps and they work, you’re not going to get evicted," Himmelstein says.

The fact that you've hired a trainer is a good example of one of those steps. Himmelstein adds that you may also want to see "if you can insulate the apartment in such a way that the barking isn’t as annoying to the neighbor."

Streich notes that there are a number of products on the market that are supposed to cut down on a dog’s tendency to bark. One, called ThunderShirt, is a shirt for dogs that is supposed to make them feel secure and less anxious.

For all of the options, there is one clear choice to avoid:

"The one thing that the tenant/pet owner should not do in this situation is to ignore the issue," Streich says.
 

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