Condominium Pet Owner Problems

by Gilbert on September 18, 2010

A Toronto news website “TheStar” wrote this article about a Toronto condominium owner who has been legally forced to sell her unit due to HOA (home owners association) complaints about her 150-pound Rottweiler.  The article also mentions how it was not just her problem puppy that caused the lawsuit; she was also a nightmare neighbor.  She is additionally accused of the following acts, “racism and anti-gay slurs, loud music, intimidating threats and attacks that included “egging” homes, poisoning a neighbour’s plants, throwing gravel and stones, and striking a fellow resident in the throat”.  Wow, what a jerk!

“Be sure you understand the HOA pet policy BEFORE you buy!”

As a condominium and townhome real estate specialist in the Seattle area, I see a lot of pet related condo problems…nothing quite like that crazy lady from Toronto. Some of the more typical problems I see are people who didn’t clearly read the existing condominium policies/bylaws regarding pet ownership.  I often hear, “its my condo, I can do what I want”.  Well, the problem with that philosophy is that it simply won’t hold up in court. Remember, you can be forced to sell your unit, sell your pet and pay fines. When you violate contracts and the rights of others there are consequences.

Here are a few tips to remember when dealing with pet restrictions in a condo building.

1. You voluntarily entered into an agreement to follow the condo rules. Don’t be bad or hurt if you or your pet is violating the rules.  Don’t be a jerk! Now its another story if you were given falsified documents from the HOA or your real estate agent at the time of your purchase.  If you feel that is the case, seek the advice of an attorney.

2. The rules can change. Pay attention to what your HOA board is doing.  The same way Liberty is going to hell in this country due to voter apathy, your HOA may be going to hell due to owner apathy.  If you don’t show up to HOA votes, you will miss out on pet policy changes.

3. If the HOA policy isn’t crystal clear take the policy to an attorney. Your real estate agent isn’t a lawyer and your state probably prohibits him or her from interpreting the cloudy HOA pet policy.  Any good real estate attorney should be able clearly tell you the limits and boundaries of the HOA pet policy in an hour or less (inexpensive piece of mind).

4. Be a good neighbor. Sometimes your dog will bark loudly, snap at a neighbor or other wise break the rules.  Many of your immediate unit neighbors will ignore these violations if you are genuinely a good neighbor.  Call it…Karma…

5. Change the policy. If necessary change the policies.  Make flyers, knock on some doors and rock the vote!

6. Condominiums are not the only properties to have rules. If you live in a cookie-cutter home/neighborhood that was built in the last 15 years, there is a good change you are subject to a home owners association (HOA).  You may have restrictions to pet sizes, number of pets, barking, dog droppings, etc.  Read everything you sign when buying a home.  Be sure to hire a trusted real estate agent…like myself to help you. :-)

If you have any questions about this article or condo ownership, please contact me directly or leave a comment below.  Take care condo lovers!


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