C.C. from Colorado writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I have a year-old dog and I am a very responsible dog owner; always clean up after it and try my best to follow condo bylaws pertaining pet. However, recently, I’ve had a contentious issue over where I can let the dog out. The condo association has strict rules that I must walk the dog only on the “perimeter” of the properties. I live in one of the middle units. There is no way I can get out to the sidewalks without going through at least the back yards (where there are no gardens, just grass leading up to a wooded area). I have asked them to better define just where the perimeter begins in this area. Am I entitled to look at surveyor’s maps of the property, as part of my Master Deed? Can the association arbitrarily say that the entire side of the building has no perimeter, leaving me no ingress or egress to access the place where my dog can eliminate from my back door (the side “perimeter” is about 400 yards away on the public sidewalk)? I have taken photos. I think this rule is really unfair, but I don’t want this to come to fines and litigation. These complaints started from some dog hating neighbors who are trying to eliminate dogs from the complex (they are already outlawed by the new bylaws, but mine was grandfathered in and I’m one of the last owners).
Mister Condo replies
:C.C., as a fellow dog lover, I am sorry that you find yourself in this predicament. It is clear that your association is steering away from dog ownership within the association, so it is unlikely you will find a friendly ear on the Board to hear your case. Yes, you can ask for a definition of a perimeter area and you can ask how you are expected to get your dog from your unit to an acceptable relief area but don’t be surprised if you are told to use your car or carry your dog. These are extreme measures and you may wish to speak with an attorney to see what, if any, rights you have as a unit owner. I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice in this column. If it were me, I would likely continue to be a responsible dog owner and walk the dog as inconspicuously as possible to the perimeter area. If fines and warning letters start arriving and the Board is unwilling to work with you, legal action may be your only recourse. Even then, the attorney may tell you that the Board is well within its right to restrict the use of the common grounds as they see fit. No easy solution here. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail and you can continue to enjoy your condo living experience. All the best!