Getting rid of cat smell?

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by DrivingPigeon, May 8, 2014.

  1. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    May 8, 2014

    My husband and I own a duplex. We lived on one side for 2 years, and recently moved to the other side (it's larger). We have a new tenant who moved in last week. She is complaining that the place smells like cats.

    We do have 3 cats. However, I am a crazy neat-freak. I vacuumed the place at least twice a week, and dusted/scrubbed the house every Saturday. We never had litter box problems. When we moved out I spent 12 hours cleaning the place (and it's only 800 square feet), and we had the carpets professionally cleaned. I haven't been over there to smell it at all since then.

    I'm not sure what to do. I just read online that you can change your furnace and AC filters, and sprinkle baking soda on the floor and vacuum it up. I guess she bought air fresheners, but claims they aren't working. Other than painting the entire place and getting new carpet, what can we do?

    (On a side note, I'm really ticked because her boyfriend, who isn't on the lease, has stayed over every night, along with his dog. His name is even in the mailbox. Grrr.)
     
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  3. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    May 8, 2014

    The first thing you can do is evict her for not following the lease. That would solve your problem.

    I'm not trying to be sarcastic about this. I think, however, that your new tenant may be bad news.
     
  4. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I'm gonna have to agree with swansong. Give them a notice to evict for failure to abide by the terms of the lease.

    Once they're out, I'm afraid that painting and new carpets are the only way you're ever going to get the smell out completely. Even the neatest animals still have a smell. There's a reason why every landlord I've ever known of (including my parents, who own a number of rental homes) charge a pet deposit/fee.
     
  5. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    As soon as I hit "submit" I realized I forgot to add something.

    Gather proof that the boyfriend and his dog are living there, including photos of his car in the driveway and his name on the mailbox. If you don't, they can claim you're evicting them in retaliation because they're asking you to clean up the cat smell.
     
  6. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Thanks for the advice. I'm starting to have a bad feeling about renting to her.

    The pet smell is really frustrating, though. I scrubbed that place so well, and we got the carpets cleaned. We just spend the past 7 weeks remodeling our new side, so we really don't have the energy (or money) to remodel the other side. It's so frustrating!!!
     
  7. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Document everything. Get a lawyer that specializes in landlord/tenant law in your state. While I'm very familiar with the laws in Florida, I'm not a lawyer, and every state is different.

    As for the cleaning, consider it a lesson learned the hard way. Even the cleanest pets leave trace odors, especially in carpet. There's a reason why my parents' rentals are 100% ceramic tile floors. Also, painting between tenants is pretty standard if the old tenant has been there more than a year.
     
  8. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Scrubbing and cleaning the carpets often does nothing for cat urine. Sometimes it makes it worse. You may need to remove the carpet or use special enzymes to clean the carpet and the walls. This is probably not something you can do with the tenant in the rental unit.

    My neighbor had to remove all carpet, paint, and even have some subfloor removed because the previous owners had multiple cats that ruined the carpet, padding, and subfloor.
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    It's not just cats...dh had to remove carpet and bleach the concrete underfloor due to tenants' dogs in a house we previously owned.:mad:
     
  10. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Pet odors are so hard. We recently realized that our dog was using a hidden corner of my daughter's bedroom as a potty. It couldn't have been more than a week (dog was sick), but it is already nasty. I shampooed and that made it worse-much worse.

    I would tell her there's nothing you can do. Maybe you could give her the option to break the lease? Then you are saved the trouble of evicting.

    Then, I would invest in tile floors. Necessary in a rental.
     
  11. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    The thing is, it's not urine. They've never peed or pooped outside of their litter box. It's more of a musty, old, cats-lived-here smell.

    A few of you mentioned tiled flooring throughout, but I've never actually seen that in a house. It's not common here in Wisconsin with the cold winters. I'm not saying I couldn't do it, but it just seems really weird to me.
     
  12. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    In rentals, replacing the carpeting gets expensive. I know others have mentioned urine, but it's not just the urine that gets into the carpets and walls. It's just that dogs and cats have a smell, not necessarily a bad smell, but they do have a smell. That gets into the fibers and is impossible to get out. If you're going to allow pets, you might want to consider a pet fee to pay to replace the carpets once the tenants move out. Or, if you don't want to charge an upfront fee, add "pet rent". That was common when I lived in North Dakota; they would charge an extra $25/mo per pet in addition to a pet deposit (which you could get back, unlike a fee, which is non-refundable).
     
  13. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    You could do heated tile. Another option might be carpet tiles, that can be replaced individually.

    As far as the renter, I think I would be noncommittal. She can complain, but I'm guessing there's nothing in your rental agreement that says you have to act just because she has a complaint.
     
  14. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Around here, a non-refundable deposit AND monthly pet fees are the norm.

    In regards to a future solution, what about a laminate? You could probably get away with slightly higher rent, too, since it is an upgrade.
     
  15. i8myhomework

    i8myhomework Comrade

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    May 8, 2014

    Why is her boyfriend staying over a problem?
     
  16. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I assume it's because the lease specifically states just the lady. The boyfriend has not had the same background and credit check as the lady...that could present serious problems...especially since the op lives in the same home.
     
  17. teach1

    teach1 Companion

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    May 9, 2014

    I would evict her for not following the lease. Even if she wasn't complaining about the cat smell, I would NOT be happy that her boyfriend was living there with his dog and his name on the mailbox.
     
  18. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    This is correct. The lease states that the tenant and her dog may live in the duplex, and that is it. If someone else is staying overnight for more than 3 consecutive nights, she must notify us. So far he has been there 8 nights, his name is in the mailbox, and she never notified us. She said his dog is there, because her boyfriend is "helping her move," but she's been moved in for almost a week. The dog is also there all day when no one is home. We only allow small dogs, and this is a 9-month-old lab. So, is it really a huge deal that the boyfriend suddenly lives there? Not really, but the point is that she is breaking her lease.

    I think painting would make a big difference, so if replacing the filter and running the fan doesn't work, we may do that. In our new side, we repainted everything except for the 2 hallway closets. It's crazy how dirty and musty it smells when I open them up, so I think painting does make a huge difference.
     
  19. i8myhomework

    i8myhomework Comrade

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    May 9, 2014

    Oh, okay. I never realized people who aren't listed on the lease couldn't live there and it was considered "breaking the lease".

    Of course, I don't care who else is living in our rentals as long as the place is kept up and everything is paid on time. Then again I'm not sharing a house with random new tenants that show up.

    There could be a meth factory in effect for all we know :lol:
     
  20. Special-t

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    May 9, 2014

    We had heavy smokers in a rental unit. Cleaning and painting didn't help. A guy came an de-ionized it for 8 hours and it took the smell away.
     
  21. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Cleaning the walls with Greased Lightning does wonders to get smoke smell out, as does leaving regular vinegar out for a few hours.

    To clean the walls, get the spray bottle of GL and two wet rags (dish towel sized). Spray the GL heavily on the walls and let it drip down. Use the first rag to clean most of it up, then the second rag to get the rest of the residue off. Keep that second rag very well rinsed out, and only do sections of wall about 2 feet by 2 feet at a time. You can literally watch the old nicotine and tar stains running down the walls. Sometimes, for really bad walls, you'll need to repeat the process or use a third, even cleaner rag.

    Once you're done cleaning (walls, floors, cabinetry, etc), leave a cereal bowl full of vinegar in every room (use two or three for larger rooms). Shut the house up overnight, then come back in the morning to dispose of the vinegar. The vinegar will absorb the smoke odors out of the air far better than anything else I've ever tried. My parents have had rentals my entire life, and I've spent most of my life helping do the recovery cleaning and repairs, and have seen just about everything. This includes an upset evicted tenant who parked a cow in the middle of the living room. That was, um, interesting, to clean up after.
     
  22. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    May 10, 2014

    A cow? That's interesting.

    My girlfriend was separated from her husband & she eventually let him move in. She let the rental office know that he was living there. She did not put him on the lease, nor did he have a key. When he moved out, she told the rental office.
     

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