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Q&A—Joe Saurino

Q A few years back, the prior board passed a motion to charge all future unit  owners with dogs a $50 fee per month because of an existing dog that would  occasionally defecate in the building. There was no analysis conducted to  determine whether or not $600/yr per dog was adequate or excessive. It has  since been determined this fee is excessive and we are no longer having an  issue with resident dogs.  

 I recently raised a motion to remove this rule. However, a board member who  still has ties to the old president has advised me that the original motion was  filed as an “Irrevocable Motion” and that nothing can be done. In researching this, I cannot locate any information about an “Irrevocable Motion” or if such a thing even exists. Is there such a thing?”  

     — Massachusetts Board Member  

A Massachusetts condominium boards lack the authority to unilaterally ban pets within units. A board’s rulemaking authority extends only to common areas, and not to the units.  (Parenthetically, there is no such thing as board-passed rule that cannot be  revoked.) Restrictions concerning the use of units must be set out either in  the condominium’s master deed or in the bylaws to be enforceable.  

 Various attempts to circumvent the limits of a condominium board’s authority have failed over the years. One board triedto restrict keeping pets by passing a rule requiring all pets to be carried  across the common areas. The Appeals Court struck down this restriction,  holding that the board could not do indirectly that which it could not do  directly.  

 Similarly, a board-enacted rule requiringpet owners to pay a premium to keep a pet would almost certainly be  unenforceable, if challenged, because Massachusetts condominium boards do not  have the authority to restrict keeping pets via mere board-enacted rules,  either directly or indirectly.  

 — Joe Saurino, Esq.

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