Dogs allowed, but...
by Danielle Bonneau, Journal La Presse, July 2014
Very few condominiums strictly prohibit dogs. But their presence is often subject to rules that vary from one place to another. Better to know before buying a condo.
"Dogs should be welcome, believes Stuart M. Millowitz notary, co-founder of the firm Millowitz Hodes Bergeron, very active in the area of co-ownership. I always tell developers that prohibiting pets could result in losing sales and harming themselves. "
According to him, such an authorization should be stated in the first part of the co-ownership declaration (the constituting act) so that it could not be changed easily afterwards.
Things are different when it comes to the rules outlined in the by-laws (the second part of the declaration of co-ownership), which determine the operation and administration of the co-ownership. Those govern the presence and movements of animals in common areas. They can be easily modified, and guidelines governing the possession of pets may be added to comply with the will of the co-owners.
"As a consequence of abuse or of problems, the board of directors may specify certain rules that can be ratified at the next annual meeting of owners," says André Delage, president of the Regroupement des gestionnaires et copropriétaires du Québec (RGCQ).
In the building where he lives, for example, the co-ownership by-laws originally stipulated that pets should not weigh more than 9 kgs.
"As some dogs pooped on the carpet on their way outside, the regulation was amended to stipulate that masters must carry their pets in their arms when moving into common areas. Dog sitting was also prohibited when the masters were going away for more than a stipulated time. Neighbors having been disturbed, it is no longer tolerated that a co-owner have someone coming three times a day during his absence. They must send their animals elsewhere. "
Dogs are not all well adapted to life in an apartment and are often the subject of conflicts, says François Forget, President of Jurisconseil, an association of notaries. He does not think it necessary to limit their weight. "A small dog can be more tiring than a big," says he.
Specializing in co-ownership law, he believes having reached an appropriate compromise by inserting some boilerplate clauses in the declarations of co-ownership and that he wrote in his office.
As far as the private areas are concerned, the building by-laws usually provide that only pets are allowed. "No pet considered harmful by the Syndicate of co-ownership can be kept within a private area. Any co-owner, tenant or occupant keeping such considered harmful domestic animal within his unit shall, within two weeks from receipt of written notice from the Board of Directors, permanently remove this animal under penalty."
Otherwise, no pets are allowed in common areas. The co-owners may pass through common areas with their pets, but only to enter or exit.
Me Yves Papineau, real estate and co-ownership lawyer, deals with all kinds of pet-related problems in his practice. What are the big problems submitted to hiMᵉ "Dogs that upset everyone and defecate everywhere, he says. The masters are often to blame. It is a matter of good manners and of respect of others. "
He has occasionally sent demand letters enjoining co-owners to dispose of a constantly barking dog, if they could not find another solution. But he never had to initiate more serious (and expensive…) procedures.
"Usually, people understand, he said. And they try and resolve the situation themselves. "