Pet restrictions in your condominium association
Charles M. Shultz, the creator of The Peanuts cartoons, once said that “happiness is a warm puppy.” This might be true, but if you plan on personally testing this theory, you might want to check your association documents first.
The governing documents of your condominium association or homeowner's association may include restrictions on pets. In fact, our office deals with quite a few pet issues, so it is likely that your association has at least some pet restrictions. For instance, your association documents may include a complete ban on all pets. Period. Other common restrictions include prohibitions on certain types of animals (for instance, you may have a dog, cat, fish, or bird, but no other type of pet), and the number of pets an owner can have (like, no more than two pets per unit or parcel). Some associations will also have restrictions on the size of the animal (for example, cats and dogs must be under 20 pounds). My best friend has a dog that was only supposed to be 20 pounds… well, now Holly is 90 pounds of pure love and joy, but that could get her in trouble if she lives in an association with these sorts of restrictions.
In addition to restricting the type of animal you can have, the number of pets, or the size of the pet, an association can also promulgate rules related to how you take care of your pets. An association can require you to leash any animal when you're outside (including regulating the length of the leash), and can also require that the animals be walked only in certain, specified areas. Associations can also make you clean up after your pets, of course.
If you violate a rule involving a pet, the first step is typically a violation letter. You will be informed of what you are doing wrong, and you will be given a certain amount of time (10 days, for instance) to comply with the rules of the association. An association may also fine owners for pet violations, and can even go to court to get an injunction to require an owner to either do something or refrain from doing something, depending on what the violation is. An association may also require you to remove the pet, in certain circumstances.
Before you go and buy a new furry friend, you should definitely look at your association documents to see what is allowed and what is not permitted. But also keep in mind that these documents can be amended, so you should also keep current on the rules.