Pets and the condo
Having a pet is not a problem in a family house, but it turns out to be something else in a condo, where individual and collective rights constantly have to be harmonized in order to keep the co-ownership manageable.
A buyer should always verify whether the declaration of co-ownership and its by-laws allow for the possession of pets, and, if it does, under which conditions.
A buyer who is having problems with the presence of animals (allergies, odors, noise, etc.) should always make his purchase decision with caution. No one wants, indeed, to stat his co-ownership life in court, fighting against the syndicate.
Several times, the courts have decided that by-laws completely forbidding pets in a building were not valid because the building's destination did not justify them. But the pet owner will always be well advised to avoid condos were pets are not welcome. And a buyer unable to tolerate pets in his environment should not be reassured by the mere presence of a section forbidding them in the declaration of co-ownership. Experience proved that such by-laws are often disobeyed and are likely to be invalidated in court. One should have their legality verified by a professional.
The buyer who sees restrictions about pets in the declaration of co-ownership or even a complete interdiction of their presence in the common portions (except for going in and out) should be reassured. Pets that do not disturb the co-owners are usually tolerated in a co-owned building as long as they stay in the limits of their private portions. That's the best way to keep peace and quiet in the building, while preserving everyone's right to enjoy the company of his favorite pet.
New by-laws : partial or complete modification ?
Decisions on new by-laws that only seek to rule on the possession or the presence of animals, without completely forbidding them, are taken by a majority of the co-owners present or represented at the general meeting. Usually, the by-laws will rule on the presence or the moves of the animals in the common portions. That should be the best compromise for all.
It is different if the new by-laws forbid the presence of pets in a building where they were previously allowed (or allow it where it was previously prohibited) and if the new by-laws do not match the initial intention of the co-owners in the declaration of co-ownership. This situation requires an amendment of the building's destination, which is part of the constituting act of co-ownership. According to the Quebec civil code, this kind of modification requires a majority vote of three-quarters of the co-owners representing ninety per cent of the voting rights of all the co-owners (present at the meeting or not). Such an amendment would be much harder to reach.
One exception, though : when the co-ownership was established before january 1st 1994 and if the declaration of co-ownership says so, decisions concerning a building destination change must be taken unanimously (100% of the votes).
It is important to remember that directors do not have a very large scope in this area and that adopting a by-law concerning a specific animal requires some caution. Nevertheless, if circumstances are that a particular animal is becoming a nuisance to the co-owners, the directors will be justified to take all necessary measures preventing a particular animal to impair the co-owners' rights.
So, in order to take the best decision when buying a condo, it is essential to consult the content of the declaration of co-ownership and of the by-laws, as well as of all the changes that took place over the years. By doing so, a new co-owner will keep his peace of mind and will have full satisfaction with his condo, with or without a pet.