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How to Respond to a Pet Nuisance Complaint

Tips for pet owners dealing with housing concerns

Receiving a nuisance complaint about your pet can be scary, but there are effective ways to respond to one that may help resolve the situation. Here are tips to keep in mind.

1. In a nuisance case, typically the burden of proof is on the landlord. This means that if the case goes to court, the landlord is typically responsible for proving that there is a nuisance issue. It’s not the responsibility of the tenant to prove there is no nuisance issue. Every state will have a specific definition of “nuisance.” A lawyer can tell you whether your landlord’s claims against you meet that legal definition. Talk with an attorney for more specific information on what you would have to prove if your case went to court.

2. Find and contact legal resources in your community to learn what qualifies as a “nuisance.” “Nuisance” often means a repeated and ongoing pattern of conduct. One single, isolated incident may not qualify as a nuisance, even if your landlord claims it does.

If you think that your pet is not really causing a nuisance ...

  • Speak with your neighbors (those who live directly next to you, across from you and above/below you) and explain the complaint you received. Ask them if they are willing to be contacted by the landlord to state that there is no nuisance issue.
  • Contact your landlord, either by phone or in writing, and explain that you have neighbors who will state that the nuisance complaint is not true.
  • If your landlord still says that there is a problem, ask your neighbors if they would be willing to go to court with you to state that there is no nuisance issue.
  • Find legal resources in your community and seek legal advice.
  • If you think that there is a real nuisance complaint ...

  • Speak with your neighbors (those who live directly next to you, across from you and above/below you) and explain the complaint you received. If one of more of your neighbors states that they believe there is a real nuisance, politely explain to them that you will be working on stopping the nuisance and thank them for their patience.
  • Try to fix the behavior causing the complaint. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the following tactics may help:

    If the issue is barking, get behavioral advice. Contact a dog trainer

    If the issue is house-soiling, a trainer may help with that as well. But you can also buy an enzymatic cleaner at a pet store that will remove urine odors and stains.

    Even kitties can be coaxed to do better. Seek assistance to solve cat behavior issues

    Some problem behaviors can be caused by animals' basic instincts. Contact your local animal shelter for low cost spay/neuter services where you live, or use our search function.

  • Once the issue is fixed, ask your neighbors if they are willing talk to the landlord to state that there is no longer a nuisance issue.
  • If the problem continues, seek professional legal advice through legal resources in your community.
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