G.S. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our condo association just changed the bylaws and now is imposing a one-time charge of $250 per pet. We have an issue with people, primarily students, not picking up after their pets. Most of the year-round owners do pick up after the pets. Do we have any recourse other than to pay the $250? Can they use this money for anything other than pet cleanup? Also, we have a 30 lb. weight limit, which they do not enforce. Can we opt out of this program here because they do not enforce the rules? Thanks.
Mister Condo replies:
G.S., condo associations are free to create rules and regulations for the governance of their community associations as long as they do not violate their own by-laws, the deeded rights of the unit owners within the community, or local, state, or federal laws. Creating a one-time charge for pet owners is not unheard of and it has been argued that pets place extra wear and tear on properties, which create additional expense. As long as the rule is applied universally, there should be no issue with a one-time charge per pet. However, if the rule were to single out a class of residents, like students as you have mentioned in your question, it may be unconstitutional as it discriminates against students. It would be similar to forbidding children from riding bikes on association grounds while adults were free to do so. That’s a “no-no”.
As far as enforcement of the 30-pound weight rule, that is at the Board’s discretion. In other words, they may or may not decide to enforce that rule. However, again, they may not enforce the rule against some but not all residents. If they are going to enforce the rule, they must do so uniformly. Rules and regulations are in place to protect all unit owners. They are in place to assure a quality of life and give an expectation of reasonable enjoyment of the property without any unit owner deciding to do whatever they want whenever they want to. The rules are only as practical as they are enforceable. Collecting a one-time pet fee is practical. Weighing individual pets may not be as easy to enforce. The idea is that unit owners and residents will want to follow the rules so everyone has an enjoyable condominium living experience. Good luck!