LAYTON (ABC 4 News) – There’s a big stink at an apartment complex in Layton…and it’s all over dog poop! Management said they’ve had enough and they’re going to start DNA-testing any dog poop left behind on the property and impose a fine on the resident that has a match.
Residents at Layton Meadows Apartments received a notice on November 5th that said, ‘We will need all dogs to be brought into the office to be registered. This includes basic information about you, your dog, and a saliva swab of the pet that will be sent to be entered to the DNA database.’
The letter explained that any dog left poop left behind will be swabbed and sent into the database to find a match, which can be matched days, weeks, or months after the dog is registered. A manager from the apartment complex told ABC 4 News they will send fecal samples through Mr. Dog Poop, a DNA testing lab in Tampa, Florida, according to their website.
In yellow highlight, the notice emphasized, ‘Any apartment that does NOT register their dog, a monthly fine of $150 will be charged to the account that will be due immediately with no arrangements or extensions. In addition, for every match found there will be a $150 fine added to the account that is due immediately. These fines will be strictly enforced and will not be waived.’
Residents who spoke to ABC 4 News and wished to remain anonymous said they’re frustrated with the new policy.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” said John Doe. “I can see where they’re coming from. But I think it’s the wrong approach. It’s too aggressive what they’re doing. I could think of other alternatives, like security cameras.”
Another resident, who we’ll call Jane Doe, said she questions the accuracy of the DNA test.
“What I’m worried about is the transfer of DNA can be so sensitive. What happens if I clean up after my dog and another dog goes in the same spot? Am I going to be fined for it? $150 just seems such a hefty price to pay,” said Jane Doe.
John Doe questioned the legality of such a policy. Housing attorney James Deans said if the policy on DNA dog poop testing was not included in the lease and there’s no signed addendum from residents, technically, it’s a breach in the rental agreement.
“They’ve already signed the lease or what we would call the ‘four corners of it,’ which governs the responsibility of the parties,” said Deans. “If you deviate from that and try and affect material parts of the contract in having a dog come in for DNA testing, that is definitely a material variance on the contract. That’s an overreach by the landlord.”
Deans, who has practiced housing law for approximately 40 years said in his opinion, the policy is harsh.
“This seems to be a bit heavy handed by the landlord to suddenly require you to turn your dog into something for some crime-show type of situation,” said Deans. “What they’re saying is everyone has to bring in a dog for a swab, that’s not something that any contract should require or anyone with common sense would want to move into a place.”
So what can residents do? Deans recommended that tenants politely decline management’s request in writing. But if they still get fined, they’ll have to take the matter to court.
“I think this is a scare tactic, to force tenants into submission,” said John Doe. “If it weren’t for money issues which I know a lot of the people in this apartment complex have, I know 10 people off the top of my head who would have left this place already.”
John Doe said many residents don’t have the money or time to take these matters to court, so they feel forced to comply.
The DNA dog poop policy is nothing new. In an article posted in January by Rental Housing Journal, landlords were encouraged and recommended to take on this policy.
However, another resident said she thinks it’s a good idea, even though it may be a bit extreme.
“I’m so tired of dodging those land mines. It’s so frustrating how inconsiderate and lazy some people are. If you always pick up after your dog, what do you have to be afraid of?”
Management with Layton Meadows Apartments declined ABC 4 News’ request for comment.