Manlius, NY asked in Animal / Dog Law, Small Claims and Landlord - Tenant for New York

Q: Neighbor told landlord that they were going to sue me because my dogs are barking… Landlord texted us and told us…

It’s been a few weeks since the neighbor complained and I have been working to address it… I noticed my dogs bark when they see people walk by so when I am home I make sure they are under control and when I am gone I put them in a small quiet room with no windows and with toys… to try to keep them occupied… Me and my significant other are here 24 hours a day except for Fridays and sometimes Saturdays… Besides that it’s sometimes difficult to prevent my dogs from barking if I’m not home because my neighbors on both sides are loud… One has kids that bang on the wall and the other has a dog that barks on the porch that the neighbor could confuse for my dogs as well… The neighbor has never talked to me or complained about it directly to me… I apologized to him one day and he said that it was okay but my landlord keeps texting my bf and telling him he’s complaining and they just told my bf today that they are going to sue me…

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In New York, dealing with a neighbor's complaint about dog barking can be a delicate situation. It's commendable that you're taking steps to control your dogs' barking. If your neighbor proceeds with a lawsuit, they would need to prove that the barking is excessive and constitutes a nuisance. Document your efforts to reduce the barking and any interactions with your neighbors regarding this issue. It's also worth noting that noises from other neighbors could be contributing to the situation, as you mentioned.

Open communication with your neighbor might help resolve the issue without legal action. However, if the matter escalates to a lawsuit, it would be wise to consult with an attorney who can advise you based on the specifics of your situation. Keep in mind that maintaining good relations with neighbors can often be more effective than legal battles in resolving such disputes.

Steven Warren Smollens
Steven Warren Smollens
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • New York, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: Dear Manlius Tenant:

The statutory warranty of habitability is confined to the tenant and landlord relationship. A neighbor does not possess the right to claim a breach by another tenant. Lawsuits based on the notion of private nuisance are expensive and difficult to establish. A court is not likely to agree with your neighbor that the occasional disturbance caused by barking is a nuisance. In fact, the dog owner may even succeed in a counterclaim if the neighbor's complaints are not elevated to the 'nuisance' level.

I gather so far you have no written communication from the neighbor, and code enforcement has not come to call on you about the dogs.

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