K.S. from California writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I am from the Bay Area of California. I have been living in a condominium complex for the last 2 years which has had a standard pet policy regarding the common areas. Pets were allowed in the courtyard and on the roof until now. There was a new post on the door saying that pets were no longer allowed in these areas because people have not been cleaning up after their pets. I have noticed this as well, and I pick up waste from other dogs when I see it. I think it would help if there were bags or scoops in the common areas but they never provided them. They are going to start fining people who bring their pets to these areas but there is really nowhere else to take them. The condominium is downtown and there is nothing but city streets around the building. My question is: it seems unreasonable to suddenly implement this rule which has such devastating consequences, (we would have to drive our dog to the nearest park for him to go to the bathroom). Can they legally fine us for bringing our dogs to a place they were always allowed to be? What is the law regarding this? Thank you!
Mister Condo replies:
K.S., as a dog lover, I can relate to your frustration. However, the Board is comprised of democratically-elected unit owners from within your association. If you don’t like the rules they are making, you simply vote them out at your next election and elect folks with similar goals as you. Perhaps you would make a good candidate for the Board? I am unaware of any law that requires a condo or HOA to provide relief areas for pets. In fact, I know of may associations that have even gone pet-free over time. The pet guidelines typically reflect the spirit of the community. My guess is that the Board was getting sick and tired of receiving complaints about the pets so they passed a rule that would eliminate the problem. As long as they passed the rule in accordance with your association’s guidelines, it is enforceable, meaning yes, they can fine offenders. Unless you get them to revoke the rule or get some new leaders for your association who will revoke the rule, you will likely need to seek relief for your pet in some other manner. I am sorry I don’t have a simpler solution for you but I am sure if there are enough like-minded folks as yourself, revoking this rule won’t be too difficult. Good luck!