Q&A: Ignoring the Pet Rules

Q I Our rules and regulations state that owners may not have more than 2 pets, one of which may be a dog. One of the unit owners—who also happens to be a board member— keeps 4 dogs in her unit as pets. Since she is a board member, the board will not take action against her. Not only is this not fair, it is against the rules. What can we do?

—Pooch Rule Breaker

A “Based upon the information that you have provided, there seems to be no question that the rules and regulations only permit 1 dog per unit and that the board member who has 4 dogs is clearly in violation,” says Wendell A. Smith, Esq., from the law firm of Greenbaum Rowe Smith & Davis, LLP in Woodbridge.

As practical matter, I would submit the following suggestions to try to get 3 of the dogs removed. Put your complaint in writing, addressed to the entire board individually and collectively, citing the details and requesting that they exercise their fiduciary duty to enforce the restriction through fines, suspension of privileges, court action or whatever other remedies might be available. If the board fails to act within a reasonable time frame, request Alternate Dispute Resolution ("ADR") which the association is obligated to provide pursuant the regulations promulgated under the New Jersey Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act ("PREDFDA"). The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (" DCA") may be able to assist you in making this happen if the board ignores your request. Finally, if you do not achieve removal of the additional dogs through ADR and assuming that the board is unwilling to commence a legal action for injunctive relief, most association governing documents give a unit owner the right to enforce restrictions such as this independently from the association. You may want to explore this option through your attorney, but this could be an expensive proposition if you aren't joined by other unit owners who would share the legal fees and costs.”

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Comments

  • Our condo rules limit for pets per unit is 1. Since the HOA was formed in 1972 it has never been enforced. I have 2 dogs and have received notice that one dog needs to be removed. There are no complaints from other owners. My dogs are well behaved and always on leash when outside. Others owners have two dogs including a board member. Can they single me out to enforce the rule?