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Timothy D. Smith
Timothy D. Smith, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 2019
Experience:  10 years practicing IP law and general litigation
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My apartment complex is plagued by raccoons coming up on our

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My apartment complex is plagued by raccoons coming up on our decks. They have used my deck as a toilet and are a threat to my two domestic cats who I would like to enjoy the deck. I erected wooden walls around the deck two years ago to prevent them coming on my deck (I am on the third floor). I am now being told that the barriers must come down. What is the responsibility of the landlord if raccoons come on the deck and use it as a toilet again and also possibly attack and kill my cats? I live in the State of Washington.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Timothy D. Smith replied 1 year ago.

I hope this message finds you well, present circumstances excluded. As you likely know, unless prohibited by contract, the landlord does have the right to make you remove the barriers under law.

 

That being said, you also have the right to quiet enjoy of your property without the nuisance and health hazard of animals defecating on your leased premises.

 

The link is to the Washington State Landlord Tenant Laws...in particular, the duties of the landlord: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=59.18.060

 

Notice, Subsection (4). It states: (4) Provide a reasonable program for the control of infestation by insects, rodents, and other pests at the initiation of the tenancy and, except in the case of a single-family residence, control infestation during tenancy except where such infestation is caused by the tenant;

 

Unless you are doing something to cause the infestation of the raccoons, then it is the responsibility of the landlord to make accommodations to fix the problem.

 

This is the law on the notice you are to give the landlord to correct the condition: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=59.18.070

 

This is the law on the failure to remedy the condition: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=59.18.090

 

This is the law on the ability to get reduced rent as a result of the landlord failures:

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=59.18.100

 

I suggest you print off these laws and show them to the landlord...give the landlord copies of the laws. You then respectfully XXXXX XXXXX the problem be solved or you will be forced to take the necessary legal action.

 

To answer your question directly, the landlord's responsibility is to remedy the problem or take all reasonable actions to remedy the problem. If he does not, you have a case for reduced rent as we result.

 

Let me know if you have any additional questions or comments.

 

Best wishes going forward.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. I had guessed that I must remove the barrier. However, what is the owner's liability if, for example, the raccoons come on my deck and defecate again or injure or kill my cats who should be able to enjoy the deck? They have attempted over the last year or two to trap the raccoons and the raccoons simply return, climb the nearby trees and gain access to the decks. They take the view they have done everything they can do and we all have to live with the raccoons. The management company suggested that perhaps it was time for me to live somewhere where there are no raccoons. The return of the raccoons is encouraged by a neighbor who feeds the on their deck. A notice was sent out over a year ago about feeding raccoons and threatening eviction. However, this has not stopped the feeding or the raccoons. When I pointed this out, I was told they could not be there 24 hours a day to prevent this. I will take down the barrier. What happens when trouble with the raccoons starts on my deck again? Reduced rent hardly compensates me for possible exposure to disease or the death of a pet.

Expert:  Timothy D. Smith replied 1 year ago.
You need to document and take pictures of the residue left behind by the animals. If they actually destroy your property or injure or kill an animal, you can actually get damages against the property owner. The property owner has a duty to prevent other tenants from feeding the animals. They also have a duty to correct the problem (this duty is enhanced by them forcing you to remove measures that have worked in preventing this issue).

As mentioned above, this documentation of the existence and hazards of the animals will help you if you have to petition a court to order the landlord or property owner to actual handle their legal duty.

You do not have to move, nor should you take those veiled threats with any seriousness. Fortunately, the Washington Landlord/Tenant laws are on your side with this issue.

Sequence of Events:
(1) Document;
(2) Give Notice;
(3) If issue not remedied, then contact court;
(4) In your case, you will likely succeed and either receive damages or reduced rent or both in view of the hazard and the property owner will be required to take care of the problem by hiring a professional in pest disposal.

Let me know if you have additional questions. I want to make sure you are fully satisfied with the answers given and the direction you need to head.
Expert:  Timothy D. Smith replied 1 year ago.
Did you have any other questions relative to these issues? You really do have a lot of room to move around relative to the issue at hand. One way to make sure you are totally protected is to document everything in case you end up in court. Take pictures of your protective measures before you take them down to be able to show the court what you did successfully to alleviate the problem that was required to be removed by the landlord. If and when the animals return, take pictures of them, take pictures of the mess they leave. You may even want to keep a journal of activity with brief entries as to what happened and when. Document all interaction with the landlord/owner as well.

Let me know if you have any additional questions or concerns.
Timothy D. Smith, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 2019
Experience: 10 years practicing IP law and general litigation
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