M.R. from New Haven County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
A neighbor continually complains about everything in particular related to my dog. They are complaining that she pees on the grounds behind their deck. The dog does favor this area to relieve herself and I believe it is common grounds. The property management says this is not allowed, that I have to take the dog to another area to pee. Is that true?
Mister Condo replies:
M.R., in a word, yes, it is true. Most associations forbid walking of any pets on the common grounds of the association. Check out your condo documents and you will likely see where this rule is detailed. While it may seem unkind to allow pets in the condo and not allow them to be walked on common ground, there is good reason. Pet feces are a health hazard and even urination can cause damage to the landscaping. That yellowing or browning of the grass in Fido’s favorite relief area is an eyesore to the rest of the property.
Enforcement of these rules is another issue altogether. I have seen extremes on both ends of the spectrum. Some associations choose to look the other way and not enforce the rules at all. Some associations have pet patrols ready to report the slightest infraction. Some go as far as to have the dog feces DNA tested so they can determine who owns the offensive pooch! The reality of the matter is that if pets are allowed at the condo it would be a good idea to provide a pet relief area somewhere on or nearby the common grounds. Then pet owners are happy and the folks who want their landscaping to look its best are also happy.
If an association cannot provide suitable pet walking areas and chooses to strictly enforce its “No Pets on the Common Grounds” policy, it might want to consider banning pets altogether. Of course, existing pets would be grandfathered but new pets would be prohibited. That is a bit extreme but it would make the problem go away in a few years time. A better solution, in my opinion, would be to offer a solution to the problem.
Neighbors complaining about other neighbors creates a bad environment for condo dwellers. Fining and harassing pet owners who have no other option than to let their pets do their business on the common grounds will result in a situation like the one you are describing where neighbors become tattlers because no solution was proposed for the problem. Of course, your neighbors have an expectation that you will be a responsible pet owner and follow the rules of the association. I assume your dog is always on a lead and that it is never left unattended or barking. My guess is that if you are following the rules, your neighbors will have nothing to complain about.