Hi there. We are renting a house that ha...

Asked by andrewgunn on 23-06-2015 13:59:56
Question posted in the General Law category relating to Gauteng
Question value: R 160.00

Hi there. We are renting a house that has a flat above it also being let out. The house has a private garden but the flat and house share the parking lot and driveway and the flat has no garden. The agent (same agent for both dwellings) has let the flat from the beginning of June out to a couple who have two dobermans (dogs). One of the dobermans is really aggressive. Last week, he barked aggressively at my husband. On Saturday he attacked my 4 year old daughter (he was on leash and was able to be pulled away literally 1cm before impact). Today the dog showed a aggression to my domestic worker. We are prisoners in our own house. We were never consulted or even correctly informed before the tenant moved in. We informed the agent of the incidents and have requested that the dogs be removed. She told us no one has the right to tell the tenants to remove their dogs. Do we have any rights or must we continue to live in fear for the safety of our 2 small children and ourselves? Thanks.

Further information relating to Question:

Once we heard about the dogs we contacted the agent and the agent asked us to try it and said the dogs weren't dangerous and if it didn't work she would give notice to the tenants to move. We have sent emails to the agent detailing each incident. We asked the agent in our last email to seek the dogs being removed from the property. She told us that we can't infringe their rights. We don't don't know where we stand. I cam send you the emails I sent to the agent if needed.

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Answer to the Question

Posted by Att. Patrick on 23-06-2015 15:01:36
Hi there and thank you for your question,

Firstly, if there are two pieces to the property which are being rented out, the owner doesn't need to consult you in relation to the new tenants. e.g. you rent a single flat in a block. Why does the owner need to consult with any of the tenants when a new tenant comes in?

Having said that, you are entitled to peaceful, undisturbed use of the area of property that you rented from the owner.

If the dogs are accessing the private garden that goes with the house, then you have the right to tell the flat tenants that their dogs are not allowed in the garden, as it forms part of your rental property. Your rights to your garden are as a result of your lease agreement, and somebody else can't infringe on those rights.

If the dogs are attacking you, etc, in the common areas (like the driveway) then you unfortunately don't necessarily have the right to demand that the dogs are removed. This is a common thing that happens. I've got a neighbour whose dog is vicious, and I can't do anything about it except to tell the neighbour that he needs to keep his dogs under control! I'm waiting to get bitten so I can take it to the next level.

You should do the same. Write a letter to the neighbour (copy to the agent, and another to the owner) detailing the various incidents that have happened. Explain that their dogs are dangerous, and that you require them to keep their dogs under control. Explain that if you are attacked by their dogs again, then you will have no other choice but to sue them for the medical expenses and pain & suffering as a result of the dog bite.

Ensure that your neighbour can't argue in court that "he didn't think that his dogs were vicious". You need to be able to show proof to any court (if it gets to that stage) that the owner KNEW that his dogs were vicious, and that they had attacked people in the past, and the owner STILL didn't do anything about it.

Q: Do you have the right to tell the other tenants to remove their dogs? No, unfortunately not.

Q: Do we have any rights? Yes, of course you have rights. But your rights are in relation to the use and enjoyment of the property. If there is a tenant (or even neighbour) with dangerous dogs, you can't just demand that the dogs are removed. You need to live next to them - in peace.

Q: Must we continue to live in fear for the safety of our 2 small children and ourselves? Well, yes and no. I'm sure that after you've explained the situation to your co-tenants they will take heed, and will keep their dogs locked away. To a certain extent you will also need to live with the situation, or move to a different place.

If the dog was on a leash, then you need to ensure that the owner realises that he needs to keep the dogs on a leash. He can't let them off it.

You could also keep pressure on the agents with each incident, and carry on complaining. Legally you don't have the right to have them move, but if you complain enough the agent/owner might ask them to leave! At the end of the day, who does the owner want to keep in the premises. You, or the other people with the dogs?

If there is a part of the answer which you need more advice on, or clarity please continue in this same thread instead of opening a new question.

Att. Patrick

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