Dealing with Noisy Neighbors, Pets

Tenants are entitled to the quiet use and enjoyment of the premises. However a landlord is not necessarily responsible for the acts of neighbors and other tenants.  If a landlord has some control over the neighbors. then the landlord may have a duty to try to alleviate the situation.   

Sometimes neighbors find alternate dispute resolution programs to help resolve the problem.  Depending on the severity of the noise problem, a landlord may explore evicting the bothersome tenants, but will likely have to do so through the courts if the tenants have a fixed term lease.  In cases like this, it is usually necessary to have good proof, like a diary that notes the dates and times of the rowdy activity, as well as recordings of the noise.

In general, however, judges are hesitant to authorize evictions unless the situation has become extremely unpleasant and legally constitute a "nuisance." 

What If My Neighbor's Dog is Disturbing Me?

If your neighbor has a noisy dog, the first step is asking the dog's owner to stop the noise. If that doesn't work­­ try mediation, especially if you and the neighbor have other issues. You can also contact animal control authorities and request that they enforce laws restricting noise. The police can also be called to enforce the law. If all else fails, you can bring a nuisance lawsuit in small claims court.

How Should I Negotiate With My Neighbor About the Nuisance Dog?

It is best to first write a friendly letter or call and arrange a time to briefly meet. Don't threaten legal action at first because the situation could be resolved outside of court. You can offer your neighbor positive suggestions­, like obedience classes, or a personal trainer ­to help solve the problem. Try to agree on a resolution to end the problem, and set a date to talk in a couple of weeks to follow up on the situation.

Consult Local Laws

If your neighbor's pets are creating a problem that cannot be resolved through discussion and negotiation, you may be able to invoke a local ordinance or state law. Laws regulating pets and other animals often have the terms "dogs," "animal control," or "animal law enforcement" in the title.

The following animal behavior, pet owner actions, or other conditions are typically regulated by such laws:

  • Types of animals allowed in a home
  • Number of animals allowed per household  
  • Length of time and frequency of dog barking allowed
  • Leash requirements for dogs
  • Requirement to clean up after your pet
  • Rabies vaccination requirement

Police likely won't be able to help you, unless it is an extreme or dangerous situation. So call your local animal control service first.

What Should I Do Before I Sue Over a Nuisance Dog?

Before you sue, try to negotiate with the dog's owner to find some resolution to the barking problem. Many states require proof that you tried to reach some agreement of the dispute. Make sure to check the deadline for bringing the suit because there is always a limit on how long you have to file a lawsuit after the incident occurs. Decide how much to sue for by placing a dollar amount on the harm you've suffered because of the neighbor's dog. And lastly, gather proof that the dog is legally a nuisance. It is best to bring witnesses, photos, or other evidence to prove that the dog is a nuisance.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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