Q I became disabled last year and subsequently applied to my board for approval to have a companion dog. Upon approval, I signed an agreement that restricted the dog from certain areas, and reiterated that the dog could not be a nuisance to neighbors. I then installed $6,000 of thick padding and carpeting, as well as new rugs. The dog is fabulous, and never barks. Recently, we have had children visit on a regular basis—thrice weekly—and they play with the dog for about 30 minutes. Other than a few times when the dog has run across the unit at night, there's been nothing that I can perceive as commotion whatsoever. So imagine my surprise upon receiving a letter from the board regarding the excessive and disruptive noise from my unit. What do these accusations mean in regard to my right to have the dog?
—No Nuisance in Nutley
A “It’s really great that the association was able to provide you a reasonable accommodation and allow the companion dog,” says Elysa D. Bergenfeld, a partner with the law firm of Ansell Grimm & Aaron, P.C. in Princeton. “Without having actually seen the agreement referenced, the rules and regulations (including the governing documents of the association), or the actual violation notice that you received (which should reference your right to ADR—alternative dispute resolution—and provide a time in which you are to respond/request ADR or you waive your right to ADR), I have no way of knowing whether you have actually violated any of the association’s rules and regulations. Whether you have an accommodation or not, you still are required to abide by all association’s rules and regulations (except those that prohibit the dog and/or those that were waived via the agreement).”