(Original article posted on the WB Digital Newsletter Stream)
Pets are valued members of the family, so it’s no surprise that pet-friendly communities are some of the most sought-after places to live. While there are many benefits to living in a condominium , pet permissions do come with a few guidelines. Like any condo, pet-friendly communities have rules, regulations, and restrictions that every homeowner is expected to follow. A community’s pet policy often details the type of pets allowed, rules for pet owners, and steps taken to ensure compliance. While restrictions in each community are different, the following are a few general dos and don’ts for successful ownership in pet-friendly communities.
DO: Review the Governing Documents
Your pet is a big part of your life. That’s why you should make sure to review all paperwork that may detail what your pet can and can’t do in and around its home. Before you sign on the dotted line, study the declaration and by-laws. Familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations for pet owners and determine if you’re able to adhere to them and if they’re compatible with your lifestyle. These rules and documents can be lengthy but be sure to take time to read them carefully. If the legal wording is confusing, ask an attorney to review the documents with you.
DON’T: Assume All Pet-Friendly Communities are the Same
Each condominium corporation can decide if it allows members to own and house pets. Further, they can restrict the types of pets they permit and much more. With efforts to keep harmony within the community, allow certain liberties, and keep the grounds well maintained and presentable, you’ll find that many associations have restrictions, such as:
- Height, weight, and size of the pet
- Number of pets per household
- Species of pets allowed
- Breed of dogs or cats allowed
DO: Be a Good Neighbour
Once you have a proper understanding of your condo’s pet policy, do your best to follow the rules. This will help create a good relationship between you and your neighbours. Talk to your neighbours face-to-face and keep conversations friendly. With excessive barking being one of the top complaints in condo communities, keeping open lines of communication between you and your neighbours is an easy and quick way to resolve such issues.
DON’T: Ignore the Barking
Dogs don’t bark just to bark. Barking is a form of communication, so it’s crucial to determine what your dog is trying to say. The most common causes of barking include protection and warning, fear, play, attention, loneliness, and separation anxiety. Consider efforts such as exercise, socialization, or training to help your dog work through the issue.
DO: Be Courteous to the Community
If you’re paying monthly dues to help maintain neighbourhood parks, pools, and common areas, then get out and enjoy them with your pet while helping keep the grounds safe and clean. As a common courtesy, you should always pick up after your pet. Getting out and enjoying the extra things your community offers will likely improve your sense of community and make your experience of living there far more enjoyable.
DON’T: Let Simple Tasks Turn into Big, Stinky Problems
While picking up after your pet may be a habit, remembering to pack waste bags before a walk may not be. Many communities now have pet waste stations complete with waste bags and receptacles. Make it a point to find out if your community has these stations and plan your walks near them.
If your condo allows pets and doesn’t have pet stations in place, it’s something that you can ask your board to explore. With enough interest, you might be able to spearhead that change.
DO: Make Your Service Animal a Priority
Service animals are required to have reasonable accommodations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Because service animals aren’t viewed as pets, community rules regarding pets—like size and weight limits—may not apply. When in doubt, please seek legal advice.
DON’T: Leave Questions Unanswered
If a homeowner with an assistance animal requests accommodation, boards need to be careful about how they respond. Lawyers suggest boards implement a very limited vetting process and consult counsel before questioning owners, denying requests, or even adopting restrictions.
DO: Understand Rule Violations
Your condominium corporation will have a set of governing documents, which includes pet-specific rules and regulations made by the community. When a member of the community breaks one of the rules, then they may receive a violation notice from the board. Typically, a violation will include details about the offense, how to correct it, and a deadline to respond or fix the issue.
DON’T: Worry too Much About Simple Mistakes
Most boards understand that mistakes happen, and violations are often resolved with a friendly verbal or written reminder. If you question the effectiveness of the rule, this might be a good time to discuss it with your board in a calm and relaxed manner. It’s possible to amend the rules, and your board has a duty to work with you to come to an appropriate solution.