You signed the lease agreement. Your promise to pay and to follow the rules. But when you signed it, no where in the fine print did it say you would be fined you if you didn't pick up after your dog. And no where did it say you were required to have your pet swabbed for DNA. Can the complex add a policy? Is that legal? Bill McGinty from our sister station WCNC in Charlotte has the scoop.
"So you see 'poo print' in the email, and that catches your attention right away," says Kevin Creasy.
Creasy and his two dogs all live at theLegacy Fort Mill apartment communityin Ft. Mill, which is new, and the management says they intend to keep it looking that way.
Parry Cobb is the Regional Manager for GCI Residential, the parent company of Legacy Fort Mill and says, "For sanitary reasons, and also for aesthetics, we just want to keep the property beautiful, and we would hope that our residents would want to help us to do that."
"And if I owned a property, and I wanted to stop it once and for all, it's certainly a way to find out who is doing it," says Creasy, and he adds, "I totally get it, I do."
The email that Creasy, and the rest of the residents got, meant business. The email was addressed to the dog owners saying their lease was being amended and that you must "bring your dog to the office where you will swab your pet for a DNA sample".
The reason? That "small percentage of residents who have not been using a pooper scooper".
Parry says, "At GCI Residential, we have over 9,000 units, and our number one complaint from residents is that their neighbors don't pick up after their pets."
While he understands, Creasy says, "It's kind of a pain in the rear end, a little invasive and big-brotherish, kinda weird."
Here's how it works, once the registry is complete, some unlucky soul, will have the duty of picking up the pesky unclaimed pet poop, and then a piece of sample will be sent out to a lab as part of a program called "Poo-Prints".
It'll be tested, and the DNA will be compared to the dogs listed on the registry. The rightful owner will get a $250 fine. If it's unpaid, that dog owner could end up on management's "poop" list and risk being tossed out.
Is it legal? You bet. We asked Charlotte Attorney Brett Dressler to review the lease, which clearly says in paragraph 17 that "we might make changes to written rules".
Dressler says, "Unless the landlord changes the rules after entering into the lease and requires the tenant to pay for the initial registration. I think that would be tantamount to an increase in rent. The simple requirement of registering the dog's DNA would be within the letter of the lease. Imposing a fine for leaving dog poop in common areas is definitely fair game."
It's another important reason to read your lease thoroughly before you sign.
Creasy thinks the whole "poo policy" is a bit draconian, but, he registered his dogs nonetheless so he doesn't irritate the managers.
"Is it worth moving over? No," says Creasy.
So I guess, this is the end of it. Managers at Legacy Fort Mill say the cost of running the DNA test is about $75 bucks and the $250 dollar fine will cover that cost. And, the rules aren't just for dogs; cats can make the naughty list, too.
This program goes into effect on March 1, 2014.
We called Poo Prints, to find out if any Triad apartment complexes are using their services. They said hundreds of apartments, condos, and home owners associations in the Triad are using their services!
And if nothing else, this story definitely serves as a reminder to read your lease closely. Always keep a copy so you can refer back to it if you need to. The pet issue is just one example. Viewers have called 2 Wants to Know about changes in smoking rules and parking policies. If the phrase "we might make changes to the written rules" is there, they can legally make changes.