By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Today’s feature news story comes from Kaitlyn Ross — known as K9 Kait — of 11 Alive.
Susan Raney owns a condo at Miles-Parkway Plaza, governed by the City Heights Condo Association. Condo rules set a limit of two dogs per unit. And, up until a year ago, Raney owned two pets, and was in compliance with the rules.
Owner adopts a third dog
Raney began taking care of her elderly neighbor’s dog, Reebok, when she went to the hospital. The woman died a short time later, and, with no family or friends to care for her dog, Raney decided to adopt Reebok.
For almost a year, Raney lived with three dogs, and no one complained. Then a new management company took over, and informed the condo owner she must get rid of one of her dogs, to comply with Association rules.
Raney explained the circumstances — that there’s no one else to take care of Reebok, and that her three pets all get along quite well. But the condo association insists that “the rules are the rules.”
They threatened to fine Raney $25 per day, as long as more than two dogs live in her condo. Heartbroken, Raney decided to move out, until she can work out a solution.
The condo owner is now trying to get two-thirds of other condo owners to sign a petition to allow an exception to the rules, so that Raney can continue to care for all three dogs.
Can your condo association force you to get rid of your beloved pet?
Yes, it can — if the official restrictions limit the number or type of pets allowed in the community.
As was the case for this Atlanta condominium, your Association’s board may be willing to bend the rules, especially if they love animals. But, as soon as new members start serving on the board, they can decide to strictly enforce rules and restrictions as written.
In fact, many condo and homeowners’ associations limit not only the number of pets, but the type of pets allowed. It’s fairly common for HOAs to disallow certain breeds of dogs, or to ban pets over a certain weight limit.
Especially in multifamily condominiums, the limitation on the number of animals in a building is intended to cut down on nuisances, and to avoid health and safety issues.
The rules are based upon the assumption that more dogs mean more noise, more dog messes, and so on.
Of course, the 2-dog limit may seem unfair to some readers.
Many of us know owners of one out-of-control dog with bad behavior, while other pet owners take care of multiple dogs that never make a mess, bark, jump, or bite.
Forced to choose
If Raney cannot convince enough of her neighbors to make an exception to the pet rule, she’ll be out of luck. It’s highly unlikely that any court will rule in her favor, because condo restrictions are clear about limiting the number of pets in any single unit.
If Raney doesn’t want to give up any of her dogs, she’ll probably have to either rent or sell her condo unit, and move to a home where her pets aren’t restricted.
But, who knows? Following the 11 Alive report, maybe one of Raney’s condo neighbors will offer to take Reebok. That’s one possible compromise.
HOA buyer beware for dog owners
Challenges for condo and co-op owners
As today’s post illustrates, if you live an apartment style unit and own a pet, life can be challenging.
For starters, unless you live in a ground-floor unit, you’ll have to take your dog up and down stairs or elevator several times a day. Some condo associations even insist that you pick up and carry your dog across the lobby. That can get tedious mighty fast!
Unless your condo is near a dog-friendly park, your dog won’t have anywhere to run free. Having a balcony might help, but it might also frustrate your pet and annoy your neighbors.
Your neighbors live close by, and, try as you might, some of them won’t like your dog. Some people just don’t like dogs. Be warned — those are the residents most likely to complain if your canine isn’t an absolute angel.
HOA-governed planned communities have pet restrictions, too
Don’t assume that all single family home neighborhoods will be OK with your pets. HOA-governed communities might also limit the number, size, and type of pets you can have on your property.
This is especially common in single family or townhouse subdivisions where houses are very close together.
You’ll want to keep your pet safe, but, be aware that some HOAs do not allow back yard fences or dog runs.
HOAs that allow fences often restrict the type of fence allowed, and its maximum height. And be prepared to submit an application for your fence to the Architectural Committee, and wait for their recommendation and the HOA board’s approval, before you can install a fence.
Also, be aware that some common areas may be completely off limits to your pet, such as the pool deck, the play ground, and the club house.
You can never assume that your HOA will look the other way if you violate the rules. ♦
Woman moves out of her condo instead of giving up her dog
Author: Kaitlyn S Ross, 11 Alive (Atlanta)
Published:12:16 PM EDT May 23, 2019
Updated:5:48 PM EDT May 23, 2019