Zona Properties, Inc. | P.O. Box 17937, Rochester, NY, 14617
Email: dick.zona@zonaproperties.com | Phone: (585) 506-9430

A Reader question – disputing tenants

Posted on: December 13th, 2017 by zonaprop

A reader sent in a question regarding feuding neighbors.
The email read: I FOUND YOUR BLOG POSTS TO BE INTERESTING. I WOULD GREATLY APPRECIATE AN ANSWER ABOUT THE NEIGHBORS NOT GETTING ALONG IN MULTI FAMILY UNITS THAT SHARE A DRIVEWAY AND IS CONSISTENTLY CAUSING PROBLEMS FOR THE OTHER TENANTS IN THE BUIDLING. IT’S BEGINNING TO BE HARASSMENT IN THE FIRST DEGREE BUT THE TENANTS HAVE BEEN DISCOURAGED FOR CALLING THE POLICE TO AVOID POINTS ON THE PROPERTY.

The first approach is to establish the rules for use of the driveway. Hopefully these rules are written in the lease for every tenant (one of the reasons I recommend a written lease instead of a month to month verbal). If there isn’t a written lease then you could write up an individual notice of the rules regarding parking/use of the driveway etc. and deliver it to each tenant (not just the offending tenant). If a violation of the rules occurs the landlord then should notify the offending tenant that he/she is in violation of the parking rules with a request to move their vehicle immediately. This should be done by phone or in person followed by a dated letter. The landlord should keep all written correspondence for possible future use in court. The landlord could also at the time of sending out the original notice of the rules contract with a towing company to remove cars from the property if notified by the landlord. When this is established the landlord must post a sign on the building stating the name and location of the company that can tow vehicles as warning notice. If the particular tenant keeps on violating the rules you can then issue another written notice and have the vehicle towed. If this procedure does not deter the offending tenant then the final action is to evict the tenant. I would recommend an attorney be used for this type of action.

Allowing Service dogs in your property

Posted on: June 4th, 2015 by zonaprop

I believe everyone knows the importance of adhering to all laws relating to discrimination of any kind in housing. Very often the question of allowing service animals in your rental when your policy is ‘no pets’ is one that I have found some landlords don’t fully understand. First, below is the definition of a service animal as stated by the federal government:

    “Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA

I ran across a case several years ago that enlightened my knowledge on this law. We had a prospective tenant apply for one of our apartments where we had a ‘no pets’ policy in place and that had a ‘companion’ dog. We asked if the dog had training in being a service dog (the answer was no), we asked how long the applicant had the dog (1 month). We asked the type and size of the dog (50 lb. pitbull). Based on our knowledge of the ADA law (Americans with Disabilities Act) we denied her application. This was based on our policy of no pets along with the knowledge that insurance companies very often cancel the landlord’s policy based on the presence of certain breeds of dogs (pitbulls, German Shepherds etc.). I very promptly received a letter from an attorney (not always a pleasant experience) stating that while we may not have been discriminating against the applicant based on the ADA, we were discriminating against her based on the Fair Housing Act. See the following explanation from Wikipedia:

    While the ADA has narrowed the definition of service animals that are required to be permitted in places of public accommodation, other laws still provide broader definitions in other areas. For instance, the Department of Transportation’s regulations enacting the Air Carrier Access Act permit “dogs and other service animals” to accompany passengers on commercial airlines.[4] The Fair Housing Act also requires housing providers to permit service animals (including comfort and emotional support animals) without species restrictions in housing.

Based on our ‘new found’ understanding of the law (and prodding from the attorney) we reversed our decision. It is always wise to consult with your legal counsel before making a decision such as the above.