Podcast 381: Who's Responsible for Pet Cleanup?

In this week’s episode, Podcast Host, Property Manager & Business Owner, Andrew Schultz, chats about who cleans up after pets once tenants move out.

What happens when you have a tenant who is attempting to sell your rental while living in it? Yep, apparently, it’s a thing.

Last, but not least, what is an at-will tenant and how does that differ from a tenant that is on a month-to-month lease term? Find out in our latest podcast.

Andrew Schultz: (00:01)
Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Rent Prep for Landlord’s podcast. This is episode number 381. And I’m your host, Andrew Schultz. On today’s episode, we’re gonna be talking about pet urine. Who’s responsible a mother slash tenant, trying to sell a rental. That’s a good one. And terminating the 10 of a disrespectful tenant. We’ll get to all that right after this.

Voice Over: (00:26)
Welcome to the Rent Prep for Landlord’s podcast. Now your host, Andrew Schultz.

Andrew Schultz: (00:31)
Have you joined the free Rent Prep for Landlord’s Facebook group? We’re on the push for 13,000 members. If you have a question or a situation that you’ve never encountered, or you just need to bounce an idea off a big group of housing providers, this is the place. So if you haven’t checked it out yet, do it today. Over at facebook.com/groups/rentprep. Don’t forget to mention the podcast when answering the questions. So we know how you found us

Voice Over: (00:54)
Water cooler wisdom, expert advice from real estate pros.

Andrew Schultz: (01:02)
We’re gonna start things off a little bit different this week with a question directly from a tenant. This is a tenant that just leased a new apartment, and they’re having some issues with pet odors. We’re gonna go ahead and jump right in here. I just started my lease last week and the apartment smells awful. I’ve been trying to identify the smell as well as to clean it to no a veil today. I was sitting on the floor to put some furniture together and I caught a strong whiff of pet urine. Sure enough. When I put my nose to the carpet, all I could smell was pee. I repeated this in all of the rooms and located various urine spots. Since I haven’t been living here or fully moved in, would the landlord be responsible for cleaning or replacing this carpeting with pet urine? Sometimes the only way to remedy is to completely rip up and redo the carpets.

Andrew Schultz: (01:45)
And again, this is a question directly from a tenant. It’s interesting to get one from a tenant. So I wanted to make sure that we got a chance to answer this one. And we’re gonna start off by saying fortunately for you as the new tenant, this one is gonna fall to your landlord. Uh, I’m assuming what happened here is that the previous tenant probably had pets and then the carpets were either not cleaned or insufficiently cleaned after the tenants moved out, pet odors. One of those things that could be a real nuisance to get rid of once you have it locked into a carpet. So we’ll take a look at some steps here that you might be able to, uh, or really your landlord might be able to do to get rid of these odors in the carpet. Uh, the first thing you’re gonna wanna do is check on the extent of the damages and you may need to pull the carpets back to see how bad it is if the carpet and the pad are completely saturated, you’re already off to a bad start.

Andrew Schultz: (02:32)
Uh, but you also need to take a look at the subfloor underneath the impacted area to see if that has been damaged over the course of time as well, letting animal urines sit on. Subflooring like that is obviously bad. It’s going to cause damage and rot. And the smell is definitely gonna embed itself into the flooring material over time as well. Um, but I wanna back up for a second and assume that we only have damage on the carpet and the pad for the next couple minutes here. So if you have pad and carpet damage, you may be able to treat it. Um, there are some pads that have a moisture barrier layer that will prevent it from getting down to the subfloor. And if you find yourself in a situation such as this, where it’s just the carpet and the pad, you may be able to get away with carpet cleaning and some sort of an enzyme treatment to break down the ammonia in the carpet.

Andrew Schultz: (03:20)
I do recommend using a carpet cleaning service here with a truck-mounted, steam cleaner, rather than just going with regular residential carpet shampooer or a rug doctor or something along those lines. And the reason for that is that the professional machines are gonna generate much better results than the home units do. They can extract a lot more of the water that they put into the carpet and the enzyme solution as well from the carpet, um, than what the standard residential models do. And usually, all of this can be done with all of the carpet and pad in place, uh, in the room that it’s in. In some instances, you may have to actually pull the carpet and pad out to clean it. And honestly, if I’m at a point where I’m pulling carpet and pad to clean it, I’m just replacing that carpet. I’m not gonna screw around and pull it out and put it in a garage or on a lawn and clean it and re it’s just, it’s not worth it.

Andrew Schultz: (04:11)
I’m just gonna replace it at that point. I’m not screwing around with cleaning because the battle is kind of already lost at that point. So what if you have damaged subfloor underneath that carpet and pad, there are some treatment options for subfloor, depending on what material it’s made out of. So for instance, if it’s wood and it’s not rot damaged, you may be able to clean the area with some sort of an enzyme cleaner and extract the ammonia from the flooring, same thing with concrete and hard surface floorings. A lot of times you can get it by with some sort of an enzyme cleaner for those. Um, there also are services that will specifically do this style of cleanup. What they do is they come in and basically use a combination of enzymes and extraction tools and stuff like that to kind of pull, the ammonia smell and everything back out of whatever the surface may be.

Andrew Schultz: (05:00)
Uh, but you have to bring those types of companies in before you do any sort of ceiling. So for example, if your solution here was to like paint the subfloor with kills, to try to seal the odor in, um, you’re not gonna be able to bring in a restoration company after that point because they’re not gonna be able to extract everything through the layers of paint. Now, taking a little bit more time to talk about painting the subfloor here, to seal the odor in this comes with some risks as well. For instance, this paint may or may not work. You may go through all of that work and discover that you still have an odor in the room after you have gone through and painted this entire subfloor. Um, you may also find that it works, but only for a short period of time. So you go through all this work, a painting, the subfloor out, sealing it, whatever the case may be putting new carpet or new flooring in.

Andrew Schultz: (05:49)
And then two months down the road, maybe not even two months down the road, you still wind up with an odor when all is said and done. So you’ve gotta be cautious when it comes to subfloor damages to how you go about treating it. Honestly, the best solution for damaged subfloor is to cut out and replace the impacted area. If you cut it out and replace it with new, there’s never a question as to whether or not it’s going to stink because there’s no urine in it to cause an odor. I mean, it’s pretty self-explanatory at that point, after that, you can come back in and lay whatever flooring you decide as most appropriate for that area unless it’s absolutely necessary. My strongest recommendation is to eliminate carpets wherever possible. It seems like the wear and tear factor on carpets never seems to balance out when you consider spending a little bit more for some sort of a hard flooring surface that won’t deteriorate as quickly.

Andrew Schultz: (06:38)
So unless you’re in a situation where you’re trying to keep noise to a minimum or something like that, I understand that carpet is the short-term cheaper solution, but long term, it’s certainly not. You may wanna consider eliminating carpets altogether so that you don’t have these issues going forward. It’s a lot easier to clean up after a pet when it can’t soak into a carpet and pad, if you do wind up with some residual smell inside the apartment, once you’ve had the carpet issues and subfloor issues taken care of my recommendation is to try running an ozone generator for a short period of time. And that should eliminate any remaining smell. Your carpet cleaning company may be able to assist you with this. Generally speaking, it’s not terribly expensive to rent one, or you can just go on an Amazon and buy one for a couple hundred bucks.

Andrew Schultz: (07:20)
If it’s something that you’re gonna be using on a more regular basis, like every time you turn over an apartment, just understand that the ozone generator is only gonna take the smell out of the home. If all of the other steps have already been followed. So just using an ozone generator to try eliminate the smell, isn’t going to get you anywhere. If there’s still ammonia off-gassing into the air, it might deal with it right now, but it’s not going to deal with the future ammonia that continues to off-gas. So there you have it, sometimes a urine. So carpet and pad can be saved. And sometimes it’s just too far gone. Your landlord’s not gonna know until they get in there and take a look at it, but it should become pretty evident what needs to be done once they get to that stage in the game, reach out to your landlord and explain the situation and see what they can do to resolve this issue on your behalf, best of luck. And hopefully, you get to enjoy your new apartment

Voice Over: (08:10)
Feet on the street. Real stories from real property managers.

Andrew Schultz: (08:19)
It’s not too often that I come across something that makes me go, Hmm I’ve I’ve been in this industry for like 12 or 13 years at this point. And honestly, being in the Buffalo market, I’ve seen quite a bit of different stuff. I’ve run across all sorts of different situations over the course of these years, but this is a new one by me. Let’s go ahead and take a look here. I just received seven documents in an email from a realtor asking me to sign, to list my property. As it turns out my tenant, who’s also, my mother contacted a realtor, set up a meeting, took pictures, et cetera, all in an attempt to sell the home. I contacted the agent who emailed me and let her know I had no desire to sell. She was completely bamboozled. This one came to us via Reddit.

Andrew Schultz: (09:05)
And this is definitely a unique one. I mean, this is less of a landlord-tenant issue and more of a family issue. I, I guess really it’s both, but let’s jump in anyway. Um, I don’t think I’ve ever had a tenant try to sell the property that they’re living in on the open market. That’s definitely a new one for me. And honestly, the real estate agent probably should have noticed something was off about this almost immediately. Whenever someone contacts me and wants to list a property for sale. One of the first things I do is go into the MLS and look to see if the property address has anything attached to it. Any old listings that I can go back and look at any old sales that I can review. The very next thing I do is go and pull the tax record for the property, which tells me who owns it and what their address is.

Andrew Schultz: (09:52)
So if the name doesn’t match, the person that I’m talking to, I automatically have some additional questions to ask. So realistically speaking, this never should have gotten as far as it did. Now, there are of course, legitimate ways that someone can sell a property that’s owned by someone else. Most commonly you’ll see this as part of an estate where the executor or execut trick has been ordered to dispose of the property in order to settle the estate. They obviously don’t own the property the estate does, but they’re responsible for the disposal of the property. And because they’re acting as the executor to the estate, they can sign on behalf of the estate. That’s the entire concept. Obviously, there’s going to be paperwork that can be verified as well, showing that this person is who they say they are, and that they’re authorized to sign on behalf of the estate.

Andrew Schultz: (10:41)
Another pretty obvious situation where this would make sense would be a power of attorney. You see a lot of this when someone is handling the affairs of someone else, for whatever reason, and there could be a million different reasons ranging from illness to incarceration and everything in between. Um, but in situations like this, the person acting under the power of attorney should be able to provide you with a copy of that power of attorney showing what they are and are not allowed to do under that power of attorney. There are several different types of power of attorneys out there. I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not gonna sit and jump into this in depth. Um, but you may have a general power of attorney, which gives you the authority to act on that person’s behalf, basically at any time, for any reason, or you may have a very, very limited power of attorney that only allows someone to handle specific affairs, such as one real estate transaction, or, um, like a medical care decision or whatever the case may be.

Andrew Schultz: (11:35)
The scope of a power of attorney is variable, depending on what the person issuing it is authorizing the other party to do. So. Anyway, that’s definitely a new one by me. I’ve never had a tenant or a family member for that matter. Try to sell a property out from underneath of me. I know that there are a ton of scams out there with deed recording and things of that nature, um, that we’re not really touching on here as it’s kind of outside the scope of what we’re talking about, but if that’s something that you guys would be interested in learning more about, let us know, you can always drop us a note over at whatsdrewupto.com. If you have a question, or if you have a content idea, we’re always looking for new topics to talk about. So feel free to let us know

Voice Over: (12:18)
Forum quorum, where we scour the internet for ridiculous posts from landlords and tenants.

Andrew Schultz: (12:26)
How do you go about getting rid of just a particularly bad tenant? Uh, let’s take a quick look at this example and I’ll provide a little bit of insight as to some options that you may have available. We’ll go ahead and jump right in here. Uh, I was just wondering what would be the best way to get rid of a very unpleasant tenant for some background, they have not signed a lease in over three years. It’s just been a verbal communication since then with the same stipulations and she is still breaking the stipulations over and over again to this day, reading up on Indiana landlord-tenant rules. I’m conflicted about whether she is in at will or a month-to-month tenant. My route was to schedule an inspection, see the terrible condition that the unit is in and notify her that if nothing changes from here on out, then I will proceed to send a notice to quit following up with an eviction.

Andrew Schultz: (13:14)
If this is not resolved, is there any other way that I’m missing, that would be more suitable? I’m not really trying to get a lawyer involved, but she has pulled the, my lawyer says you can’t do this card. Uh, and this one comes to us via the landlord subreddit. So I wanna preface this by stating that I’m not an attorney. And I know I’ve probably mentioned that already in this episode, but it never hurts to mention it more than once. And that the best course of action when you’re talking about legal matters, especially evictions is to speak to a landlord-tenant attorney that has experience with the eviction process in your state. Um, because right now, especially right now, there are so many compounding factors in a lot of areas with COVID restrictions and things of that nature. You really just wanna make sure that you’re not setting yourself up for failure by missing some little detail or misfiling some paperwork or something like that.

Andrew Schultz: (14:05)
So I’m gonna say it again, talk to an attorney. That’s gonna be the best option, no matter what, because they’re gonna be able to give you the straight truth based on what the laws are in your area. So the first thing I had to look into here was what exactly is the difference between an at will or a month-to-month tendency in the state of Indiana? And from the research that I did, it seems like these two terms are more or less used interchangeably. So it sounds like we’re essentially dealing with a month-to-month tendency in this instance. Now in the question, they did mention that there was an original lease at some point. My question would be did that lease convert to month to month at the end, or did it automatically renew for another one-year term? You know, what about subsequent terms?

Andrew Schultz: (14:48)
So you, since you mentioned that we’re a few years out at this point, different states and different leases can vary widely. So if you have that original lease, I think I would probably start there and see what the current tendency actually is. Whether you have something that is truly month to month, or whether you have something that has actually renewed on an annual basis, and you’re in some sort of a yearly lease term. Uh, overall, I like the process that you outlined in your question. I think that the appropriate thing to do here is to get into the apartment, schedule an inspection, get inside the unit, to take a look at the overall condition, both inside and outside. I would issue this notice in writing and I would also post it on the door of the tenant’s home and take photos of it with the time and date stamp on the photo.

Andrew Schultz: (15:32)
Then I have proof as to when I was there. And when I posted the notice, obviously double-check your state laws to find out how much notice you need to give before you enter a home in your market. Um, but I would definitely recommend making sure that you get the photo taken with some sort of metadata visible on it, the time and date stamp or whatever the case may be. I would grab like the front of the house and then a picture of the door. And then a picture of the notice hanging on the door is typically what I would do on the day of the inspection. I would walk through the home and take photos of any damage, any unsafe conditions, general chaos, you know, whatever it is that you’re coming across that would constitute a lease violation, take pictures of all that, explain to the tenant, verbally, the things that they need to change and what you’re going to be asking them to do.

Andrew Schultz: (16:16)
And then follow up that verbal communication with written communication, explaining everything that you said to the ver tenant verbally. And I recommend that you include your photos when you do this because then there’s never a question as to what was seen and where it was seen. It’s only a matter of, is it still there or has it been resolved? Um, and that makes it so much easier for the tenant to try to deny the situation. If you do find yourself in a courtroom, ultimately on this, the communication that you’re sending to the tenant is called a notice to cure. In most states, some states will have different terminology for it, but more often than not, it’s called a notice to cure or something along those lines. And what you’re doing is requesting that the tenant, correct these lease violations that you have found by a certain date, uh, most states will have timelines to follow as to how much time you have to give on a notice to cure.

Andrew Schultz: (17:05)
Um, and then if the tenant does not actually cure the violation during that timeframe, at that point, you would be able to move forward with the eviction, take your notice to cure along with your proof of the violations to your attorney, and get the case filed. If you choose to do it yourself, best of luck to you as again, that would not be the route that I would choose at this time when trying to evict a tenant, especially with this one, because you do have some unique circumstances here with the lease situation. One thing you did mention is that you’re trying not to get an attorney involved, but that the tenant had already said, my lawyer says you can’t do this. Whenever a tenant tells me that their attorney said we can’t do something. My response is something along the lines of, okay, Mr. Or Mrs.

Andrew Schultz: (17:46)
Tenant, since you’ve informed us that you’ve retained counsel, I’ll need your counsel’s name and phone number. At this time, I have to refer the case to our legal team. As we can no longer have direct contact with you. Once you’ve retained an attorney, something like 90% of the time, the tenant drops that act almost immediately, or they can’t come up with a name in the phone number for their attorney or something along those lines. If you do have a tenant, that’s retained an attorney, at least now you have the tenant’s attorney’s name and phone number. Uh, so you know who to have the court send the copy of the eviction petition to tenants, love to use this line because they think it’s a hot button that will just get their landlord to do whatever they want their landlord to do push back on it. There’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t question something like that.

Andrew Schultz: (18:29)
When a tenant says that they’ve retained counsel on the low end, you’ve called them out on their BS. And they’ll remember that you don’t take Kylie to BS the next time they think about running a game like that on the upper end, you’ve stopped yourself from saying something to a tenant that they’re gonna run back and report to their attorney probably out of context. And that could cause you more headaches down the road. So for that reason, whenever someone mentions to me that they’ve retained counsel with regards to a situation, we tell them that we’re gonna refer them to our council as well. Best of luck to you. As you sort this mess out, every landlord needs a place to go for advice for whatever situation they may find themselves in rent prep recently put together a list of the top landlord, blogs to follow for those looking for more rental information or property management guidance and so much more.

Andrew Schultz: (19:15)
You can check that out today, over at rentprep.com/blog. That pretty much wraps things up for this week’s episode of the podcast. Thank you all so much for listening. We truly do appreciate it. Our goal with the podcast is to help as many people as possible make educated decisions when it comes to real estate, and you can help us to reach our goal. If you heard anything in this week’s episode or any other episode that will help someone, you know, please do us a favor and share it with them. If you’re looking to get in contact with me, or if you have a content idea I can be reached over at whatsdrewupto.com from there, you’ll find links to everything going on with me over at Own Buffalo, as well as other projects that we’re working on. You could also grab a copy of our free deal analysis tool today over at whatsdrewupto.com.

Andrew Schultz: (19:57)
There’s no obligation and it comes with a companion video to show you how to use it. And then, like I had mentioned earlier in this episode, if there’s a piece of content that you think would be beneficial or a question that you’re looking to have answered, feel free to submit it to us over on that website. And we’ll see what we can do to get some new content out the door to you. If you’re looking for top-tier your tenant screening services, head on over to rentprep.com, there are multiple products to choose from including a tenant-paid option. And if you’re over 50 doors, ask about the enterprise-level programs and pricing. I’ve been an enterprise user at Rent Prep for years now, and it’s definitely changed the way that we screen our tenants. Check that out today, over at rentprep.com. Again, thank you all so much for listening. We’ll be back in two weeks with an all-new episode that you won’t wanna miss until then I’m Andrew Schultz with ownbuffalo.com for rent prep.com and we’ll talk to you soon.

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