Condos and Pets
Condo ownership has its advantages and disadvantages when compared to other home types and one of the disadvantages can be in the area of pets.
HOA Pet Rules
Because of their communal nature condos come with a set of rules that are written and enforced by the HOA. For those that don't know an HOA (Home Ownership Association) is an organization set up by the condo development to maintain the building and enforce rules so that the residents can live in harmony.
But what have an HOA got to do with me owning a pet you might ask? Well, part of their remit is to define what and how many pets an owner can have in their condo unit. The idea is that while they may not be against people having a pet, they want to make sure that it is done in a controlled manner that limits the impact on other residents who may not be so keen.
Here are just some of the rules they may specify:
- The type of pets that can be owned. This may also include the restriction of certain breeds.
- The number of pets, e.g. max of 2 dogs
- The max weight of pets (this is more common than you think).
In addition to dictating the types of pets, you can own, they may also define rules associated with your pet's care and behaviour. for example:
- All dogs must be on leashes when outside your unit.
- You must pick up your dog's waste.
- Rules associated with noisy barking dogs. This is a difficult one, what exactly is too much noise after all people have different tolerances.
In order to enforce these rules fines may be issued to the owner.
What Can I Do
OK, so we know that HOA's can define and enforce rules associated with Pets, but what do I need to do to ensure my pets are OK.
When thinking of buying a condo one of the things you must do is to read a document called the CC&R's. This document defines all the rules associated with condo ownership for that development, including any pet associated rules. In addition to this, it may also be possible to ask the HOA President if your pets are OK.
One thing you must not do is assume. For example, if you are looking around a condo development and see an owner walking 2 dogs, never assume that 'Oh I have 2 dogs so it must be OK'. Rules can change over time. Maybe there were never any rules limiting the number of dogs, and then the HOA found that it was becoming a problem and so defined new rules. They could not force these rules on current owners so they grandfathered in the new rules, meaning that it only applied to newly obtained animals or new condo owners. So that person walking those 2 dogs was OK because the new 1 dog rule was grandfathered in, but your 2 dogs would go against the HOA rules.