Pet Restrictions in Condos and HOAs

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Real Estate

We currently have two listings in two different condominium communities. One community allows dogs. You can have as many dogs as you like, and there is no limit on the size or weight. Perfect! The buyers who are interested have a Labrador retriever, and he will be welcome in his new home. The other community allows one dog and it must be under fifteen pounds. We have one interested buyer. She has two small dogs; one weighs eleven pounds, and the other is six. Might this condominium make an exception and allow these dogs as their weight together is just a smidgen above fifteen pounds? No, one dog. Fifteen pounds max. Well, the larger of the two dogs is very old. Would the association consider making an exception since the dog may not be around by the end of the year? No, one dog. Fifteen pounds. End of discussion.

I recently heard another agent say, "When you have a dog and you want to live in a condo, you are really looking for a condo for your pet, not you." This is because you have a smaller pool of potential properties due to pet restrictions, which can take into account the size, quantity, type, noise, and smell of the animal. 

If you’re a pet owner looking to buy in a condo or HOA, you’ll want to check on pet restrictions before making an offer. In fact, even if you don’t own a pet, you may want to check. Why, you ask? Perhaps the condo you like has a weight restriction of one dog no more than 50 pounds. That sounds great to you — no upstairs neighbor with a large dog. But what if a new neighbor moves in with four small dogs? Is one home with one large dog really a bigger issue than four small dogs living in one place? If this were a condo association, think about one person controlling four dogs in an elevator. The dogs are small, but might the owner have more difficulty with four as opposed to just one?
Here’s something else to consider. You’ll want a board that explicitly states its rules in regard to pet ownership, and hopefully the board enforces and uniformly follows them.  In the story I told at the start of the blog, we appreciate the property manager being firm on the pet policy. After all, making one exception is usually a slippery slope that leads to making similar exceptions for others. Before you know it, you have a pet policy, but what's the point if it's not being followed?

In addition to property managers and boards adhering to the rules and restrictions, pet owners also need to be held responsible. It's important that owners keep their dogs leashed when outside, and that they clean up after their dog. If you know the A Team, you know we love animals, especially dogs, but we understand not everyone is a fan. When you don't clean up after your pet, you're taking away from your neighbors' enjoyment of their "backyard", and your confirming what they may already be thinking -- that pets are a nuisance to the entire community. And don't think you're off the hook if you have a cat. For example, some condo buildings have garbage chutes INSIDE the building, so be mindful and considerate when disposing kitty litter. 
What’s the best way to find out about pet restrictions? You or your agent should call and speak directly to the property manager or a board member about all these concerns. Most are happy to assist and answer all your questions.