Q&A: Carrying Dogs Through the Building's Front Door?

Q. For at least 30 years, all residents (owners and tenants), have been using the main front door of our co-op buildings. Now our board of directors sent out an updated list of rules that says anyone walking or carrying a dog must use the back door, and and will incur a $250 penalty for using the front door. Is there anyway to stop such a rule?

                            —Pet-Friendly Tenant

A. The new house rule limiting access by anyone walking a dog to the building’s back door would likely survive any legal challenge.” says attorney Bruce A. Cholst of the Manhattan law firm Anderson Kill,  “as long as it is enforced uniformly, because there is a legitimate communal interest in keeping the main entrance clear of potential accidents. So, whether the Business Judgment Rule or a 'reasonableness' standard of review be applied, the restriction would be upheld.

“However, imposition of the $250 fine may not be a lawful means of enforcing this regulation. Fines are only enforceable when their imposition is authorized in the association’s governing documents (i.e. the bylaws or proprietary lease). While fines are routinely authorized in condo governing documents, they are rarely authorized in co-op governing documents. Since you reside in a co-op, the fine is in all likelihood not a legitimate means of enforcing this house rule, but you should consult your bylaws and proprietary lease to be sure their imposition is not authorized in these governing documents.

“The legality of any fine, which is imposed  by your board without authorization in the co-op’s governing documents, can be challenged in court.”

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