Pet-ty concerns

CREBNow offers some tips on staying out of your condo board’s doghouse

With the many rules and regulations accompanying a condo purchase, it can be difficult to know just what is and isn’t allowed. Add an animal to the mix and even the most devout pet lover will have second thoughts about their furry friends.

In addition to city bylaws that govern owning an animal, condo boards often have their own regulations that need to be taken into account. With that in mind, CREB®Now has compiled some helpful tips on making the transition process as friendly – and legal – as possible, both for you and your pet.

1.  Read the regulations

The declaration or rules of a condo may prohibit pets, or regulate their type, number and size. Two specific rules in Alberta’s Condominium Property Act specify that owners shall not “keep an animal in or on the owner’s unit or on the real property of the corporation or the common property after a date specified in a notice given to the owner by the board,” and that an owner must not “keep any animals on his unit or the common property after notice in that behalf from the board.” A prohibition on pets contained in the declaration will be upheld by courts, but such a total prohibition in the rules may not be valid. However, rules can state the number of pets allowed as well as their weight. Some condo boards require 50 per cent approval before they’ll allow a pet, and even then it may depend on how many pets already live in the development. Recently, a Calgary condo owner was faced with the possibility of giving up their three-year-old dog after it was discovered that the pet – now weighing 40 pounds – was no longer under the 20-pound limit imposed by the board.

2. Talk to your neighbours

One of the easiest ways to gauge your new neighbours’ opinions prior to getting a pet is to simply walk over and knock on their door. While such forwardness could alert negative neighbours you may be purchasing a pet in the near future, it’s likely a better bet than going ahead and reaping more dire consequences. Ideally, chatting with your new neighbour will not only offer an easy excuse to say “Hello,” but also allow them to relay any concerns beforehand, let them relay some of the rules of your particular condo board and remove any surprise complaints. Who knows – perhaps you’re new neighbour will have a pet of their own, opening the door for friendly trips to the local dog park?

3. The last resort

In the event you have difficulty with your board and/or neighbours, either prior to or after purchasing a pet, the best case of action is to try and work things out with the condo board before pursuing any legal action. “Most people don’t see lawyers for the condominium reviews. We can, but it’s a higher cost option,” said Calgary lawyer Jeff Kahane, who specializes in real estate law. Having dealt with conflicts between condo boards and pet owners at least “a few times a year”, Kahane said the best advice is to get everything in writing. “Do not waive conditions. Put a specific condition in there, but do not waive it assuming that you’re going to get permission in time, because you can’t count on it.”

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