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More questions about condo association pet rules and liabilities

Posted on Tue, Mar 08, 2011 @ 07:00 AM
We live in a town home association of 200-plus homes in Southern California. We encompass an entire square block, with lots of areas to walk with the complex. Recently, the board changed the rules and said we are not allowed to walk our dogs within the complex, citing some brown spots on grassy areas resulting from dogs peeing and resulting, they say, in increased landscaping charges. Technically, we are allowed to walk our dogs in the complex; we just can't let them pee there. There aren't THAT many dogs (maybe 20?). As yet, we don't know what the penalties would be if caught. I don't mind walking outside the complex, but for the times I am working at night, I like my wife to walk the dog inside the complex, feeling it is safer. One of the reasons we bought here was the safety within the complex for dog walking at night. Two questions: Can the board institute such a rule, sending my wife -- and other residents, of course -- into the neighborhood to walk dogs at night? And what would their liability be -- and perhaps mine, as a homeowner within the association -- if something happened to someone because of this mandate? Thank you.



Tell them the dog didn't pee you did.

posted @ Tuesday, March 08, 2011 7:29 AM by ennui

In my view the right to walk dogs is a 'vested right' i.e. a right which was granted when the unit was purchased. As such it cannot be taken away without the agreement of each individual owner. Clearly there is a responsibility on owners to ensure dogs do not foul or damage common areas.

posted @ Tuesday, March 08, 2011 7:29 AM by TonyD

The board can make rule changes as needed within the association. Pets are definitely a very big issue within communities. I am presently reviewing all of our pet policies and researching options because we have all of the same issues. We even have owners/renters that let their dogs relieve themselves on our artificial trees because it is closer to the buildings. Our lawns are dead and some owners don't pick up behind their dogs. Some even pick it up and throw the bag somewhere else so they don't have to walk back with it. This is why non-pet owners hate dogs. One solution is to find an area close by and designate it as a safe area. Now everyone with dogs can walk in that area. You can also consider removing grass where most dogs pee and replace with stone. Yes, the number one and two, ha ha, biggest complaints in any association and it is definitely a crappy, ha ha, situation.

posted @ Tuesday, March 08, 2011 7:57 AM by tony

We had this issue. If it is a city street, no one can tell you where you can walk.

posted @ Tuesday, March 08, 2011 9:23 AM by Maria

Well I am not a dog owner, but I love dogs... Being a former board member, I can attest to the big problems dog owners can create. Lazy pet owners seem to be the biggest problem. The rules and regulations clearly spell out dogs are not allowed on any common area landscaping in our complex. Yet we had owner after owner show up to meetings complaining about that. Mind you directly across the street is a lake clearly open to pets. We found in many areas of the complex were repeated offenders where over and over again they allowed their pets to eliminate in the same spot. Once in a while the board was able to identify owners responsible but as a whole it was difficult to prove. The minimum charge by the landscapers to fix these messes was $300. Not only was the common area terrible looking but the smell was over powering.  
Someone here complained of the safety factor having to walk a dog outside the condo complex. My comment to that is, if this rule is in your rules and regulations, then surely you should have known this prior to buying there. Did you read them? While I am aware that many pet owners are very responsible, it is those who disrespect rules, and disrespect the rights of other owners to enjoy an attractive area, and not have their fees go to pay for others infractions, that make rules necessary.

posted @ Tuesday, March 08, 2011 10:59 AM by Jackie

I am the 7th person to respond in the same day you post. My nonprofit runs fee 30 training for Certified Condo Manager. My website can be accessed by your clicking the BETP Inc. signature.Look up messages 31 and 51 for the training outline, if you and friends are interested. In the long run, every homeowner should try to get so certified as so provided by relevant California law, even if one is not professinally interested in being a CCM (Certified condominium manager). 
Your questions and issue raised is very common. We have to bear in mind that the majority of court decisions about "whether the association can change its pet rules from yes to no" is that the the court tends to say yes, instead of no. That answers your first question of whether the board can go back on its former rule and turn around to destroy the property right of the owner. 
However, there are two avenues that the board is afraid to tread, despite the board has the California court on it side, as in 1-2: 
(1) Use the liability issue, as you have raised in your second question. The issue is whether the board can make your family life unsave by changing the rules and force your wife to risk safety in the street at night when during the day time not everyone is free to walk his/her dog? You can require the board to send a representative director to "meet and confer" (See detail by looking up the Internet with search words, "California Civil Code sec. 1363.840). Also require a copy of the Declarations Page of Association's insurance policy from the board (That is an association record that the board must give you a copy. See detailed wording of the provision in the Internet by searching "California Civil Code sec. 1365.2.f" that allows you to enforce your inspection right. See if that section mention "Insurance" as an item of record that you can demand a copy. Besides that section, you can also search in the Internet the case with words such as "Francis T. v. Home owners Association" that says the board has to put up enough lighting for safety' sake for the homeowners, in the same way as if it is running a rental apartment as a landlord, to provide same degree of care to homeowner of a condo. 
Have I answered your two questions such as those in below? 
Your questions are:  
Two questions: Can the board institute such a rule, sending my wife -- and other residents, of course -- into the neighborhood to walk dogs at night? And what would their liability be -- and perhaps mine, as a homeowner within the association -- if something happened to someone because of this mandate? Thank you. 
(2) The second way is to make the most use of getting board member to the meet and confer to raise issues you have to raise (Again,see detail of law by looking up the Internet with search words, "California Civil Code sec. 1363.840) and look up again Civil Code sec. 1365.2 to find sub-item i(2) and J (1)(5) about minutes of meeting and timeframe for compliance to produce minutes. Study with a lawyer or paralegal or consult the Roberts Rule in the Internet to see if the Bylaw Change of Pet Rule is following parliamentary procedure of notice, motion, debate, 3 readings, etc. And check with the Dept of Real Estate whether your association's pet rules amendment is on file?  
BETP Inc. 

posted @ Tuesday, March 08, 2011 1:29 PM by BETP Inc.

Tie a dispenser on tree trunk of bench containing small plastic bags saying,"For dogs".

posted @ Tuesday, March 08, 2011 2:39 PM by BETP Inc

Thank you all for your comments. I am the original poster. I'll try to address all questions here. 
@TonyD I do not think anyone does anything maliciously. I guess dogs like their same spots over and over. But every owner picks up after their dog. I've never seen poop left. It's urine/brown grass that's at issue. 
@Steve Thank you. I will be writing to the board, incorporating some of the comments I have read here, and highlighting liability concerns. 
@Maria The issue is inside the complex, not on public streets. The complex is completely enclosed (though some homes can be accessed via the street, including ours). The board is denying us the right to walk our dogs within the property. 
@Jackie This is a brand new policy. This was not in effect even in December 2010. I was not even aware that dog urine was an issue -- our complex is beautifully landscaped, filled with trees and shrubs and grass all over the square block. 
@BTEP I guess the board does have the right to change the rules, but can it put homeowners in harm's way by doing so? I will alert the board to the Francis ruling. ... Plastic bags are not really the issue, as far as I can tell. No poop left behind, just brown spots from urine. 
@Tony and @Tiny I will propose some sort of designated area as a compromise, but my guess is, no one will want it by them. NIMBY! 
Has anyone ever experimented with immediately pouring water on the urine? Would it dilute the urine and prevent grass from browning? 
As an aside about walking outside the complex, we live somewhat near the coast -- and that seems to attract some transitory folk. In fact, the traffic signs prevent overnight parking on the street. But they do not have to move till 2 a.m. 
Thank you, 

posted @ Tuesday, March 08, 2011 7:40 PM by Keith

we have interior streets, as well, yet they are still considered "public." here in FL, if you trash is picked up by the City, it's a public street...no matter if interior or exterior.

posted @ Tuesday, March 08, 2011 8:07 PM by Maria

Check your state condo laws. see ifthere is a provision that speaks to a "substantial change" in the rules. This sounds like one.

posted @ Friday, March 11, 2011 3:43 PM by Leo Sciarappa

Check with the department of real estate to see if the amendment or change of pet rule has been approved and on file. 
Most likely, the board did the easy way which is by verbal or oral announcement, as a sort of decree. If that is the case, the court can be on your side saying there is NO VALID CHANGE OF RULE. 

posted @ Friday, March 11, 2011 3:50 PM by BETP Inc.

there is a florida statute wherby a condo homeowner can write a letter to the board by certified mail about a concern, in this case about the liability of having to walk their pet outside their community. the board must respond in a timely manner and in cases like this get the association attorney to advise and respond to each homeowner who writes 
then, the homeowner has proof that the board acted outside their authority and putting people in danger 
an amendent to the by-laws to change the rules must be done with the majority vote of the association in many cases

posted @ Friday, March 11, 2011 10:53 PM by grace

I like the idea of putting the Board on notice of the Association's potential liability.  
Once the think about their liability they might consider other alternatives within the gates, on the property.

posted @ Friday, March 11, 2011 11:07 PM by Louise Jane A.

If the problem is the dog urine turning the grass brown dog owners can put their dogs on a supplement from their Vet or from Walmart that keeps the dog's urine from doing this to the grass. It's safe for the dog and saves the grass. We've asked a couple of owners to to that with their dogs because they were ruining the grass in our common areas and it solved the problem and now everyone is happy. 
It's worth a try and an easy fix. 

posted @ Friday, November 04, 2011 11:47 AM by Michelle

I love dogs myself but everyone seems to have at least 2 dogs here at the complex. They bark at night and poop where ever although that problem seems to have improved.I am just wondering what the best way is to handling the growing dog situation.

posted @ Saturday, December 10, 2011 11:46 PM by Mari

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