Tag Archives: Pets

Hellish HOA Landlord

M.G. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

What if an owner lies to the renter and their HOA concerning the number of dogs living in their unit? My owners put on the lease and collected $450 nonrefundable pet fee for 2 dogs. However, unbeknownst to me until I moved in, they put 1 dog on the HOA form. This is because there is a strict “20 pound, 1 dog” limit on the property. However, I was told there was only a strict 20 pound weight limit. (This would not have been a problem, because my 2 Maltese are only 16 pounds together.) I was there less than 24 hours, when I was informed by the groundskeeper that there was a 1 dog/unit policy & that they would give me a hard time about having 2 dogs. I was handed the keys after they’d had approximately 20 people over for one last party. It cost me $450 for a two day deep clean move-in to remove all the filth and sand from everything. Do I as a renter, have any recourse after signing a deceitful lease?

Mister Condo replies:

M.G., I am sorry for your problems. I had to shorten your letter for space but, needless to say, you rented from the landlord from hell. The short answer to your question is “yes”, you have recourse but not without hiring an attorney who will sue this landlord for leasing the unit to you while not fulfilling the contract and flat out lying to you about the pet restrictions. You will need to ask the attorney about the cost of this suit and the likelihood of you getting your money back. Weigh the cost to return benefit before proceeding. You should also check with the state to see if you have protection as a renter that the state will pursue for you against your landlord. It goes without saying that you should not lease with this landlord again and I encourage you to do be as diligent as possible before signing your next lease. Just as a landlord requires references from you, you should require references of a landlord. Good luck!

Condo Board Changes Dog Ownership Rules or Did They?

D.C. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our Declaration of bylaws states household pets, dogs, cats, birds are welcomed. Our rules & regulations that were written and passed by the board and not by owner has banned dogs. Which ruling is correct? We recently found out the board keeps two versions of the bylaws on hand and distributes a version without the page that includes the portion that dogs are welcomed to new owners. Do I need to hire a lawyer or can I just tell the board I’m getting a dog? Can board members who have intentionally hid bylaws be banned from being on the board.

Mister Condo replies:

D.C., I am sorry that your Board is practicing deceptive communications. You will most definitely need to hire an attorney to challenge the by-laws if you decide to get a dog. The Board can be sued for not issuing updated condo documents to new owners but that isn’t likely to help your case. The original declaration and by-laws will work to your advantage but that isn’t to say the by-laws have not been legally modified since then. The Board would need to show that the rule was legally adopted and the by-laws modified. They would also have to explain why the proper by-laws are not being provided to new owners. What often happens is the Board thinks they have modified the by-laws but have not, in fact, taken all of the required steps, which nullifies their actions. Your attorney can guide you through the process if it comes to that. Good luck!

Aggressive Dog Worries Condo Board

K.D. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

What is the procedure if an owner has an aggressive dog on property. Do we have to wait for an incident before having the animal removed?

Mister Condo replies:

K.D., I am sorry that you have an aggressive dog housed within your condo. “Aggressive” is a subjective term so it is quite difficult for me to give you an answer you can put into action. Start with your current by-laws and see what they say about pet restrictions. There are usually rules about noise (barking), which is typical with an aggressive canine, and limitation of size. Smaller dogs are not typically considered a threat or classified as “aggressive”. You can also check with your local animal control officer to discuss any local ordinances that are designed to protect residents. Other than that, unless there is an attack made by this dog on a unit owner, guest, or other animal on property, there may be no rules or laws that are being broken. Good luck!

Tricking the Condo Board on the Number of Pets Per Unit

M.L. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a condo that has a one pet rule, I have a dog. Recently my girlfriend moved in and she also has a dog. I received a letter from the Corporation citing the one pet rule and was asked to remove one of the dogs. A neighbor that I have become friendly with has offered to register one of the dogs as his thereby allowing me to tell Corporation that one of the dogs has been removed although the dog remains with me. Can this be done? Can the Corporation come back to me as having two pets?

Mister Condo replies:

M.L., kindly put yourself in the position of a Board Member being asked to enforce the rules of the community. They know nothing of your personal situation. All they know is that your unit now houses two dogs, which, as you have acknowledged and obviously know, is against the rules of the association. You have found a creative “loophole” around the rule which may or may not work for you. I am certainly not going to endorse this fraudulent behavior but if you are not “caught” breaking the rules, there may be no penalty for you. However, if push comes to shove, the association is completely within their rights to enforce the rules you agreed to live by when you moved in. I hope it works out for you. Good Luck!

Condo Association Evicts Dog Owner After 5 Years!

K.V. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I’ve been living in my condo for over 5 years. The association has never ever enforced the no dog over 20-pounds rule the entire time. Now I have an eviction notice on my door. Are they able to do that? Can they now kick me out for my dog? I’ve had her there for 5 years. I would have never moved in if I knew this would happen. 5 years!!!! Not one word about it being against the rules.

Mister Condo replies:

K.V., I am truly sorry for your problems. Just because the association chose not to enforce a rule doesn’t mean they can’t enforce a rule. What they do have to do is enforce the rule evenly (not just against you) and they have to follow the rules for notifying you of the violation, giving you an opportunity to contest the violation, make sure your dog is not an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), etc.. If they have done all of those things and your by-laws allow then to evict you and/or your dog, then they may be well within their rights. If you have not already done so, you should most certainly hire an attorney to protect your rights. Eviction is usually an extreme measure and a very legal procedure. It should not begin with a notice on your door. There are many more steps than that in the process. You can and should fight back. Whether or not you will prevail depends on the association’s governance documents and your local laws. All the best!

Condo’s “Backyard” Cannot be Used to Walk Dogs

T.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our association has a rule that dogs are not allowed in our backyard near the River. Can they prevent me from using my backyard for my dogs?

Mister Condo replies:

T.B., they absolutely can restrict use of the common grounds as it applies to pets. Many condo unit owners are under the impression that the land that surrounds their units is theirs to use as they see fit. That is rarely the case. In fact, the association owns all of the common land within the association. That includes the land behind your unit which you refer to as your backyard. Since the association owns the land, they make the rules. If the rule is that you can’t use the common area for your dogs, then that is the rule. You can ask the Board for an exception but it is unlikely that they will agree. I hope you can find a suitable solution to your pet problem. Good luck!

Irresponsible Dog Owner Concerns Condo Residents

L.H. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We are senior citizens who have filed 10 complaints about a resident who does not leash his German Shepherd dog in the common areas, e.g., hallways, elevator, garage. We live in the same building as this resident. The CCR’s require all dogs to be on a leash. The HOA stated the attorney is working on our issue. They have yet to levy a fine on this resident. It has been 8 months and the resident is verbally abusive to us. What can we do?

Mister Condo replies:

L.H., I am sorry that you have such an irresponsible pet owner in your association. Honestly, it sounds like you can do all you can do. Once the association attorney is involved, it is up to the Board and the attorney to take the next steps. Hopefully, this dog will not attack you or any other unit owner before the dog’s owner leashed the dog and follows the rules. Sometimes, you just get a jerk living in an association. This is one of those times. If the verbal abuse continues, call the police. Protect yourself as best you can. My guess is that the attorney’s involvement will help correct the situation. Good luck!

Condo Revokes Renters Pet Ownership Privileges

K.L. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I rented a unit in a condo building with a lease that allows me to have a dog (under a certain weight limit). I waited months to adopt a dog and a week before the dog arrived the condo association posted a notice in the Common Area announcing that only OWNERS were allowed to have pets. I promptly talked to my landlord about this and he said he would talk to the Condo Association. Fast forward several weeks and I now have the dog. The landlord informed me days ago that the “condo association” won’t allow him to bring the matter to the Board. I’m frustrated and confused and ready to break my lease. What recourse do I have?

Mister Condo replies:

K.L., I am sorry you find yourself in this unfortunate situation. The association has the right to regulate who can and cannot have pets on the property. Of course, they need to follow the rules for passing the rules but let’s assume that they did everything right and the rule now stands. Your beef is with your landlord who contractually allowed you to have a pet as a provision of the lease. He can no longer fulfill that provision of the lease which may give you a valid reason for you to break your lease, provided that is what you want to do. Hopefully, your landlord will not challenge your breaking of the lease based on this provision but you may need to speak to an attorney to protect yourself from a suit from your landlord for breaking the lease. Your landlord may be in a position to sue the association or ask for a grandfathering of the pet clause but this will cost him more time and trouble than simply replacing you with another tenant. It is an unfortunate situation to say the least. I wish you and your landlord a happy parting of the ways and a fast turnaround in you finding a new apartment and him finding a new tenant. Good luck!

New Condo Owners Challenging Association’s Pet Rules

K.T. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I purchased my condo in September of 2015. There are 12 units in our association. We read the CCR prior to moving in because we knew we’d be wanting to get a dog. Our CCR states “Owners may have two common household pets which may be dogs, cats, birds or other pets defined in the Civil Code Section and as limited by local City and County ordinances and regulations.”

However, after moving in, our HOA manager sent over a handbook which states we can only have one dog and one cat. The handbook is dated 2007 and the CCR 2015. I would like to get a 2nd dog but am curious to see if the HOA handbook can stand up to the CCRs.

Mister Condo replies:

K.T., thank you for the question. As you know, I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice here. You may wish to contact a local attorney to see what specific legal rights you have. As a friendly outside observer, I would say it looks like the handbook is much older than the CCRs. It would stand to reason that the CCRs would supersede the Handbook but that is not always the case. However, before I advise you to rush out and get a second dog because you think you are in the right, I have to ask you about other members of the community. Do any of them have a second dog or are they all following the handbook rules? Even if you are right, and there are no other unit owners with two dogs, you risk the ire of your neighbors. If you don’t care about that, and you want to press the issue, speak with an attorney and see what the consequences might be for pushing back against the handbook rules. I would also ask you to think about the welfare of the second dog. If you are not successful in your campaign to take on the association and their handbook rules, what will become of the dog? I wish you and your fur babies a happy journey!

Can the Board Enforce a Weight Rule Against Tenant With an ESA?

A.G. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am on the HOA Board of our 11 unit complex. One unit is being rented out to a tenant with a pit bull. The HOA knew the tenant had a dog but only recently started receiving complaints about the dog. It has jumped on other residents, barks all day, and has tried jumping on other resident’s dogs. The HOA also was informed the dog is over our weight restrictions. When served with a violation notice the tenant gave a letter stating they are allowed one ESA. Can the HOA continue to pursue action against the dog being over weight limits? And can the HOA do anything about the dog being a nuisance? The owner of the unit is siding with the tenant and wants them to keep the dog. But now other residents, including the neighboring unit, are afraid of being attacked by the pit bull. I don’t think the ESA is exempt from all HOA rules but it seems the tenant is hiding behind that ESA letter.

Mister Condo replies:

A.G., the winds of change are blowing on Emotional Support Animals and your tenant may be on the losing side of the latest court rulings. Also, the HOA may be able to enforce rules about breed or weight restrictions based on your local laws. However, this is not a “do it yourself” project. Violating the rights of any unit owner or tenant with a legitimately documented ESA is a potential lawsuit waiting to happen. You are very well advised to seek the advice and guidance of a locally qualified attorney who is verse in this area of law. Otherwise, your small association could find itself on the receiving end of a lawsuit. Based on what you have shared with me so far, it sounds like both the tenant and unit owner are ready to do battle so tread lightly and get the legal advice you need before you take any action. Good luck!