T.L. from Fairfield County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our condominium documents state that there is a 20 lb. limit is for each dog. I would assume that the reason is because of barking as well as dog waste. Residents of my condo appear to be following the rules but trespassers to the grounds often bring much larger dogs to our property and let them do their business on our grounds and do not pick up afterwards. Beside the poop issue, I have been attacked on two different occasions by large dogs from other neighborhoods when I walked my 20lb dog in that same area at the same time. My little guy is terrified and so am I.
Our property states “Residents Only” clearly and firmly at the beginning of our walkway. The Board (who do not have any pets) has turned a deaf ear and has ignored my requests that we install a fence to keep the trespassers out. The subject does not even get discussed at Board Meetings, however, one board member commented that it would not be “neighborly to restrict the Back area because we are on the water, etc. The fact that our “good neighbors” leave a pile of dog poop does not seem too “neighborly to me!
Do I have any “juice” to force the Board to restrict the “backyard” area based on the document restriction to residents that a pet’s total weight cannot be over 20 lbs? By allowing large dogs with no restrictions has the Board then, by that lack of action, rescinded their directive on a 20 lb. limit to one’s pet? Thank you for your attention.
Mister Condo replies:
T.L., thanks for writing. Sounds like your neighbors are not behaving very neighborly and your condo Board has turned a deaf ear to your complaints. I asked one of my attorney friends for some advice with regards to law as you asked a couple of legal questions in closing. This is not legal advice, just a friendly observation for your peace of mind. Here is a quick answer that should help.
State law gives condo boards very broad discretion in enforcing the rules. In fact, boards can decline to take action against violations whenever they determine that doing so would not justify expending the association’s resources or would otherwise not serve the association’s best interests. When they decline to act, state law specifically says that they have not rescinded or waived their ability to enforce the same rule later, so long as the boards are not acting in an arbitrary or capricious manner (such as flipping a coin, favoring their friends, etc.). You should send your community’s board or manager a written complaint that concisely identifies specific examples and individuals. If the board chooses not to act, your remedy is to vote to elect new board members who share your concerns at the next annual meeting.
I’ll take it a step further and encourage you to involve local law enforcement. Trespassing is an enforceable offense as is assault from a dog. If you are attacked, you can certainly call the local police to press charges. You may even be able to get a restraining order against the dog’s owner which would keep them off of the property. The bottom line is that you do not have to be a victim. Best wishes!