Q&A: Too Many Pets

Q I live in a 100 percent owner-occupied condominium. Our bylaws and house rules very clearly state that unit owners may have no more than two pets, only one of which may be a dog. One of the unit owners (who is also a board member) keeps four dogs in her unit as her pets. Since she is a board member, the board will not take any action against her. Do you think her menagerie could have a negative impact on the value of the property? What is a unit owner to do?

—Manhattan Condo Owner

A “Unfortunately, it is all too common when boards refuse to enforce their own rules,” says Steven Troup of the Manhattan-based law firm of Tarter Krinsky & Drogin LLC.

“If any damage is done to the apartment of the offending board member by her dogs, this would adversely obviously affect the value of the apartment. And damage done to the common areas of the building could adversely affect prices of all apartments in the building and could negatively impact the overall “saleability” of the building. This is most likely the reason for the condominium’s limited pet rule in the first place.

“The writer should consider making a formal complaint about the board member’s breach of the rule and the board’s apparent refusal to enforce its rule, and send it to the managing agent and board president via certified mail, return receipt requested. It would probably carry more weight if the writer got other unit owners to join in the complaint. If the response is not satisfactory, the writer might decide to use this dereliction of duty in a campaign to unseat the board by a special election, or at the next annual meeting when managers are elected. The condominium’s bylaws set forth the means by which a special meeting may be called. The more unit owners who join in this campaign, the higher the likelihood that unit owners will take the action necessary to see that the condominium’s rules are enforced.

“Only the board of managers has standing to go into court to seek to enjoin this type of breach of the rules. Therefore, it is improbable that the writer would be successful if he or she went to court seeking an injunction.”

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