Q&A: Pet-Free Living?

Q My condominium does not allow any animals, as spelled out in the condominium rules and regulations. This was one of the reasons I purchased in this building. With no regard to the rules, several owners snuck in cats for pets. Our property is smaller, with only 39 units and only one elevator.

When the building was new, the builder allowed the first owners to bring in their small pets, with the understanding that when the animal died, there would be no replacing them. Subsequent buyers were never allowed to have animals.

What can we do to solve this problem? How do we do it in a “nice way” so as to stay friendly in our building? I would not be opposed to hiring a lawyer, even at my own expense, to rid us of this problem.

—Not So Pet-Friendly

A “The issue of pets is one that plagues many condominium associations. Based on the facts within the question, this is certainly a problem that the board should be addressing, as it appears that regulations of the association are being ignored,” says Janet Oulousian Aronson, Esq., an attorney with the law firm of Marcus, Errico, Emmer & Brooks, PC, in Braintree, MA. “The regulation which allowed the original owners to have pets is not uncommon, as developers included so that they would be able to sell units. Finding a balanced practical solution can still certainly be accomplished.

“For example, existing cats can be grandfathered in and no new cats would be allowed, or perhaps cats will be permitted to be kept with a limit as to the number of cats per unit. As the issue of pets is one that most owners have strong feelings about, we often encourage board members to survey the owners and seek their input before embarking. This approach should serve to gain a consensus of the community before incurring an expense to accomplish a change. We often see boards present this type of document change to the owners only to find out the majority of the owners do not want the amendment or prefer a variation.

“Once you have some consensus of what a majority of owners would like, it is appropriate, and in my opinion very necessary to engage an attorney so that you obtain a legal opinion of what is required to accomplish the objective. That way any change that is ultimately made creates valid and enforceable restriction.”

Related Articles

Q&A: Snowed In

Q&A: Snowed In

Q&A: Driveway Issue

Q&A: Driveway Issue

Q&A: Election Battles

Q&A: Election Battles