Dear Fair Housing Lady: Misbehaving Pet Owners

| April 12, 2013 | 2 Comments

Dear Fair Housing Lady,

To try another way to get residents to pick up their dog’s waste, since some do not(even though they know it’s a lease violation), we want to ask all residents, that want to participate, to take a picture or video recording of the violating resident and pet and submit the picture to the leasing office. The leasing office would then determine who the violating resident is to properly charge them with a fine. Also, we would give the resident that took the picture $100 off their rent as an incentive. We would like to put an ad in our newsletter regarding the $100 off.

Our question, by having other residents take a picture or video recording of a violating pet owner and give that information to the leasing office, are we violating any privacy laws or fair housing rules?

Thank you.


I love my job as Fair Housing Lady because there are always interesting questions out there just as there was from you.  So thank you.  I also like questions that I can answer (and I can answer this!) and that provide me with an opportunity to give you extra information.  So here goes.  I am pretty sure (remember FHL does not give legal advice) that there are neither privacy nor fair housing issues with the proposal you have made.  However, I cannot help but wonder if this will not cause friction among neighbors and therefore create unforeseen consequences for you (and even more work because of that).  But if you believe that those potential consequences are worth it to identify the offending pet owners (note that I do not say offending dogs – they are only doing what comes naturally and it is not their fault that their owners are rude), then go ahead.  But what about that “extra information” to which I alluded?  Did you know that there are now vendors out there in our multifamily housing industry that have a dog-doo DNA testing service?  When someone moves in with a pet dog one of the conditions (when the Pet Addendum is being signed) is that the dog’s mouth is swabbed and the swab is sent to the dog-doo DNA testing lab.  Then when you find offending piles at your community, you simply send a small sample to the service and they confirm the dog from whence the sample originated.  Then there is a hefty fine (and consequences) for the rude dog owner as agreed to in the Pet Addendum.  So there is something for you to think about…

Category: What's In My Mailbox?

About Nadeen Green: Nadeen Green has been an attorney since 1979. She has taught Fair Housing law to the multi-family housing industry since the Fair Housing Amendments Act when into effect in 1989. She has been asked to speak numerous times for the National Apartment Association and the Multi-Housing World annual conventions. Her reader-friendly articles on Fair Housing appear regularly in industry publications. Nadeen is proud to be Senior Counsel with For Rent Media Solutions, which offers print and online advertising products for all communities, whether through For Rent Magazine®,, Para Rentar, Senior Outlook, After 55, or specialized publications for condominiums and student housing. .

Comments (2)

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  1. Cheri says:

    That is amazing that there are companies out there that offer dog doo DNA testing. We have a huge problem in our community with owners not picking up after their dogs. Can you recommend any? Do you know the average cost?
    Thank you!

    • Nadeen Green says:

      It is pretty amazing, for sure. I do know of some of these vendors, but FHL does not “do” recommendations (especially since I have not had to have dog doo tested). What I can recommend is that you reach out to your local or State apartment associations and see whether they have vendor members in this category. Because I do recommend that property management folks get involved with their associations (a wide variety of benefits ranging from education to helpful forms to a voice with local and State government) and that property management folks support the vendors that are members of those associations.

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