N.P. from Florida writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I am searching for information regarding Florida. I have found myself with a $1000 fine and other punitive measures because of my dog being over the weight limit (per condo rules). He is a large breed dog. Without getting into full detail, it is a fact he is a support dog, and I will obtain a letter from my doctor. It goes two ways…I adopt senior dogs with medical issues, most are large. We drive from coast to coast, and spend an average of 4 months in Florida. I have clear title on the condo.
In your experience, have you heard of such a case?
Mister Condo replies:
N.P., sorry to hear of your troubles. The short answer is “yes”, I’ve heard of similar cases at condos in Florida and around the country. While I admire your dog adoption efforts, I completely understand why your condo association would want to protect itself from allowing dogs that are over the association weight limit. My guess is that once you obtain the support dog letter from your doctor you will have a clear path to fight your association on your fine and your ability to house the dog at the condo. As you may or may not know, there is a lot of controversy about the definition of “support” dogs in Florida and how condos do not have the ability to prevent their presence inside their walls. Here is a recent Miami Herald article detailing the issue – http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/04/22/3358906/the-dogfight-between-south-florida.html
That being said, I assume you knew about the rules of your condo when you purchased there and you have simply chosen to disobey the rules. That is unfortunate and, as you have seen, can carry severe consequences. Even if you prevail in court (and you just might), you will very likely have to go to court creating expense for you and your association. That means your neighbors will be footing the bill for the association to defend against your suit. That certainly could earn you some ill will from your neighbors. Do you blame them? They are following the rules and peaceably enjoying their major investment. You are breaking the rules and looking for a way to continue to do so. That just isn’t being a good neighbor, in my opinion.
Again, as an animal lover, I salute your rescue work. I think it is a noble thing that you are doing in giving these animals a better life. Perhaps you should consider selling your condo and purchasing a home where your rescue saving activities will not have such a negative effect on your neighbors and fellow unit owners. That would be a win/win for all involved. All the best!