Landlords, Beware of Dogs!

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I own a townhouse condo that is half renovated and half “vintage”. I have been renting this unit for about three years, and I have just finished a lease renting to my first dog owner. I am not generalizing to say that “this is what you can expect” from dog owners. However, this is my experience, and I want to share it, simply to put it out there to caution new landlords who are considering allowing tenants with dogs.

Prior to renting out my condo, I upgraded the main level flooring with laminate as well as the entire bathroom. The 300 sq. ft. of carpets I did not replace. The carpet ran the stairs, hallways and in two bedrooms on the second level. The carpet was in great shape and was even in style, but it did need to be re-stretched in many places. It also had the odd coffee stain from me dribbling a full coffee cup from the kitchen into my office.

I decided to rent to pet owners, because I did not want to upgrade the carpet, and people with pets were more forgiving of my carpet with the odd coffee stain. I am a responsible owner of two cats, and know that not all animals are problematic. I also know it is hard to find a unit that allows pets, and my condo complex is pet friendly, so it seemed like the perfect solution at the time.

This last tenant had a bulldog, and when she moved out, I had to replace all the carpet. There was not a stair that this dog missed. Even the inside of the linen closet was soiled. The condo itself smelled like an outhouse from all of the damage to the carpet. The damage seeped all the way to the subfloor, and removing the carpet and underlay was not nearly enough. The subfloor needed to be scraped and then treated with Kilz to deal with the damage and the odor.

Further, on my patio, was a very large box full of dog feces that had been freezing and thawing throughout the winter. It took four and a half hours to remove the waste from my deck. After removal, the deck still stunk and required more work.

The good news is this previous tenant is working with me to pay all expenses. However, what I was completely unaware of (naively) was how much damage one cute, little bulldog could do. I am sure more experienced landlords are shaking their heads at the fact I did not know. However, as a new landlord and animal owner (and lover), I have to honestly say that I did not see it coming. I did plenty of due diligence on this tenant prior to allowing her, or her pet to live in my premises. I even interviewed her last landlord. However, it apparently was not enough work on my part to prevent this from happening.

If you are a landlord that is considering allowing dogs on your property, I strongly encourage you to do as many reference checks on your pet-loving tenant as possible to protect your asset.

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