Landlord violating lease by allowing pets, will this stand in court if I sue him?

We moved into our ground floor apartment in August, and have had issues with the upstairs tenants since day one. We have been expressing these issues to the landlord at least every month, but he has failed to make any changes. We have talked to him, we have confronted them, and we have tried to ignore the issues, but they are now causing many sleepless nights, and this is beginning to affect our work. Here are the issues:

The people upstairs are probably a good 700 lbs combined and don’t know the meaning of treading lightly. When they walk (and, believe it or not, run) around up there, the ceiling and walls creak and crack and it sounds like the whole building is going to fall down. They make this noise while we are trying to sleep between 2AM and 5AM.

On top of that, and they have a cat that goes buck nuts every morning at the same time they are lumbering around. Our apartment complex is a no pets complex (which is why we moved in because we did not want to live in an apartment with animals, because this is exactly what happens), with the exception of service animals. Well, everyone and their mom claims they need a service animal, so they tell this to the landlord and he lets them run wild with pets. The law actually states that service animals can only be dogs, and that the service animal MUST be on a leash at all time. Every service animal here breaks that law. The one lady that has a dog lets it run wild, and it almost tripped me down the stairs while I was carrying my baby. And of course, the people upstairs have a cat which is clearly not a dog, in turn it is NOT a service animal.

All of this noise happens in the wee hours of the morning (2AM to 5AM), and it wakes me up, wakes my husband up, and even wakes the baby up. We have to be up at 6AM for work, and we are constantly woken up by these people. They deny they make any noise, and when we asked them to be quiet, they told us that everyone else around here are *******, so they are going to do the same.

As previously stated, we have talked to the landlord multiple times. He says he talks to them, but nothing changes. The last time I talked to him, he said he would talk with them but I have a feeling he hasn’t. I explained to him they have a cat, and that last I checked this was a pet free apartment. He went back to the same old song and dance, “I have to let them have pets because I got sued by someone before saying they needed a service animal”. I explained to him that if they wanted to be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, they needed to follow the guidelines, which means NO CATS. If the animal isn’t a service animal and complies with the guidelines of the ADA, then no animal should be allowed on the premises. He said he would talk to them this past weekend. Well the weekend passes, and lo and behold last night, we were again awoken by this cat.

At this point, we know we cannot sue because they walk heavy. We can actually deal with the heavy walking, but it is the racket that goes on with this cat and with them throwing balls and playing with the cat at all hours of the night. We have considered suing the landlord for breach of contract for violating the no pet policy and for false representation of the apartment complex (he strictly stated no pets, as does the lease with no addendum to the lease stating exceptions) in the lease we signed so that we are able to break the lease here and move. He said he would try and find us another apartment, but we are not going to go through the trouble of moving just so we can stay in the same place with the same landlord who obviously does not adhere to the stipulations of the lease.

So, I guess my question is, will this be something that can be upheld in court, or can the landlord violate the lease agreement in this regard if he so chooses to? I know that some places people are allowed pets if they have lived there forever and the no pet policy went into place AFTER they moved in, however, the landlord has admitted that they have the cat because it is a service animal, not because they had a prior agreement. I really don’t know much about the law, but do know we have to have some rights. Can anyone who has some knowledge direct me in how to best handle this?

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  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    You are not completely correct on the law regarding service animals. The ADA did just change the definition to define service animals as dogs only (but allows for miniature horses as well). It also states that service dogs can be off leash if it is necessary for them to be off lead to do their job.

    However...

    The ADA does not apply to housing, the FHA (Fair Housing Act) does. The FHA did not change their definition of service animal, so for housing rights, all species are still covered. In addition, the FHA also allows for Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) in no pet housing. If anyone in that home has a disability (and remember...not all disabilities are visible), and they provide a letter from their physician stating that they are disabled and require an ESA (and a few other details), the land lord must allow them to have the ESA in no pet housing. ESAs are not species limited. The landlord is not legally allowed to tell you if your neighbors have gone through this process and have an ESA or Service Animal.

    Source(s): I am disabled and have a service dog.
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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    The lease between you and your landlord is for your unit only. It does not affect any other units in the apartment. You cannot sue the landlord for violating someone else's lease, because you are not a party to that lease. The only way you could sue would be if your lease said something like "landlord shall not allow pets in the remainder of the building" or "landlord shall lease tenant a room in an animal-free building".

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  • 9 years ago

    There is such a thing in our area called Animal Control and Noise Abatement. Check out your cities rules and regulations. People in our area can be cited/fined if their animal bothers the neighbors.

    Take the landlord up and look at the other apartment he is offering and see who your neighbors would be. Knock on their door and ask them if they have any pets.

    I'm sorry you are having such problems. It sounds like they are not good fur parents!

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  • 9 years ago

    How long have they been there? Some people are allowed to have pets because they were "Grandfathered" in. Meaning they had pets before the law took effect or they changed policies in the building. You can't sue because they walk "heavy".

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  • 9 years ago

    You don't have any MONETARY damages. So, what are you going to sue for?? You should have been/should be putting ALL of this in writing so you can prove that you have a reasonable cause to move and break your lease.

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  • 9 years ago

    Apartment living is noisy and you have to deal with the idiosyncrasies of others. I'm sure they love the cries from your baby.

    Time to move to another apartment, live on the top floor in a corner unit, or buy a house.

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  • 9 years ago

    I'm no lawyer, but your case seems to be pretty straightforward. Before suing him, I'd go to a lawyer and have him/her draft a nice, stern letter stating your grievances and your intention of suing if things don't change. Hell, if it comes to suing, a good, frivolous lawyer might even go for money based on "emotional distress" which you actually seem to be truly going through

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