J.N. from Middlesex County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Many residents of my condo association believe that the rules ban owners from walking their dogs on common property (the rules are ambiguous about this – they state owners must clean up any droppings left on common property, but they also designate a specific area for dog walking).
Our town ordinances state specifically that dogs can be relieved on condo association common property, as long as the owner immediately picks up after the dog. So my question is, can condo rules ban unit owners from doing something that the general public is allowed to do? If I lived outside of the association, I could relieve my dog on the condo common property as long as I cleaned it up, but my neighbors believe I’m not allowed to do so as a resident of the community.
Mister Condo replies:
J.N., my favorite questions about condo living usually involve dog poop… Nobody likes it and everyone is against it. But as a matter of law, it is no laughing matter and dog owners vehemently fight for the rights of their dogs to do their business wherever they see fit. I have never heard of a municipality having an ordinance that allows for dogs to be relieved on private property. Unless your common grounds are actually town-owned, I don’t see how they could legislate such a rule. However, laws trump condo rules so if you are certain that this is the case, you may be able to let Rover do his business wherever you see fit.
Instead of looking at this issue from a legal standpoint, let’s look at it from a neighborly standpoint. I assume that the folks that are upset with seeing dogs defecate on the property are either not dog owners or they are dog owners who are following the rules of the association by taking their dogs to the assigned dog walking area. That does not sound so bad to me and it is a good way to demonstrate that you are, in fact, a good neighbor. If you do not care to be a good neighbor then, by all means, walk your dog wherever you see fit. If you wish to give yourself piece of mind, contact an attorney and ask for a legal opinion on your rights. Either way, I wish you and your dog a happy condo living experience.