L.I. from Massachusetts writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I bought a condo 11 years ago I was assured you could have 2 pets. They changed the pet policy to 1 pet 5 years ago or so they say. I assumed that I was grandfathered in for 2 dogs which is 1 reason I purchased this condo as I new I would have 2 dogs. Well, I just added my second dog and was told no. I am not grandfathered. Is this correct? Can the rules be changed just like that? 2 dogs is a lifestyle choice. Like 2 kids would be. Do I have to move out?
Mister Condo replies:
L.I., I am sorry you find yourself in this predicament. Associations are free to change the rules about how many animals are allowed within the units of the condominium. Of course, they need to follow the association’s rules on governance as outlined in the condominium documents as well as state and local law. As far as I know, there are no rights to have dogs and there is no grandfathering clause inherent in the fact that the rules were a certain way when you purchased your condo but have since changed. Also, the term grandfathering as applied here would refer to the existing dog’s at the time of the rule change. Once one of the dogs had passed, there would be no need for grandfathering as you would then have been in compliance with the one dog rule.
All of that being said, let’s talk about how your Board behaves with regards to making and enforcing rules. Condominiums are governed by a Board of Directors (Trustees, in your state) These folks are elected by their fellow unit owners to handle the business of the association and to make governance decisions that are in the best interest of the community. When rules are changed, community members must be properly notified. Also, accurate records of the meetings where rules changed must be kept by the association and made available to unit owners like you upon request.
When people write to me and use terms like “I was assured” and “so they say”, I get concerned over the proper governance of the association. Rules, Minutes of Meetings, and other governance documents are in writing. There is no need for someone to “assure you” or “tell you” anything. You can request these items and read them for yourself. If you feel your rights have been violated, you would be wise to seek the counsel of an attorney who could better advise you if you have a case to be allowed more than one dog as is your desire. If not, you may just have to live with “so they say” and either agree to one dog or find another place to call home. Either way, I wish you and your furry friends the best of luck.