Manners Matter: Rental Owners’ Responsibilities

Dear Mary Pat,

There are new owners of the VRBO house across the street from my full-time/year-round residence. They are now allowing pets. Between owners that leave their dogs home to bark all day long (my husband and I work from home) and those who let them roam free off the leash (we’ve been charged twice by barking, unfriendly dogs), I’ve had it. 

At an outing recently, I overheard a local VRBO owner lamenting the fact that neighbors to their VRBO property have called them twice in the middle of the night to complain about loud partyers in their VRBO. These owners said, “So call the police. What should we do about it?”

My question is, what expectations should we, the neighbors, have of these owners? 


PO’d by VRBOs

Sister Bay, Wisconsin 

Dear PO’d by VRBOs,

Regardless of whether a property is a full-time residence or a rental home, those staying on that property must obey local ordinances. It seems as though you are dealing with dog owners/guests/landlords/property owners who are violating leash and noise ordinances. This is a link to the Door County animal regulations, which fall under the Offenses Against Public Peace and Safety, Chapter 31:

To summarize, dogs must be leashed when outside (unless actively hunting), and they are not allowed to continually bark, yelp, howl or cry.

There has to be a level of responsibility for everyone involved. If your neighbor has a dog, you shouldn’t have to live in fear that you will be lunged at every time you check your mailbox. You should also be able to keep your windows open and not have to hear Fido bark for 12 hours straight. I think we can all agree that no one wants to listen to that. 

If your neighbors are renting to people with dogs, they are responsible for what their renters do. Loud music, ongoing parties and howling dogs do not make for a peaceful block, and the landlord needs to be contacted so she or he can help solve the issue.

As far as the conversation you overheard, the owner of the property is ultimately responsible for the behavior of the guests. There is a noise ordinance in Door County (Chapter 31, see above) that should be maintained. The owners should list house rules in consideration of their neighbors, and the guests must follow the rules. It’s as simple as that.

People can’t make a lot of noise or let their dogs bark at a hotel, and rental houses are no different.

Speak up to your neighbors to let them know exactly what is going on. Give them the benefit of the doubt that they might not know just how loud and disruptive it is. Also, tell your other neighbor that it makes you uncomfortable that the dogs are unleashed. Hopefully, this neighbor will be receptive and make some changes, such as training or putting the dogs in another part of the house, and of course not taking the dogs outside without a leash.

I have a rental property myself, and it is very near where I work. I tell guests up front what our pet policy is: If there is any excessive noise or separation anxiety on the part of the pets, the guests will be asked to take their dogs with them or arrange for a kennel. Most guests bend over backward to comply and do not have any issue with this. I hope your neighbors will be just as reasonable.

Good luck, 

Mary Pat