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August 19, 2004

Contemplating Condos - Isssue 16

Fido and Fluffy usually welcome in condos

Gerald Rotering

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Keeping a beloved pet was once almost impossible for those retiring from a single-family home to a rental apartment. In fact, anyone renting accommodation would look high and low and sometimes choose sub-standard accommodation just so their Fido or Fluffy would be permitted to live with them.

With condominium life, however, that has changed. Most condominiums allow small pets, albeit with strong controls. Those controls are imposed by the owners themselves through bylaws that have the force of law. Bylaws are created at annual general or special general meetings, and are administered by the condominium Board of Managers. In Alberta, only birds and fish are exempt from condo bylaw control.

Like all laws, these can be changed. Check the bylaws of a new condominium development before you buy in, and keep in mind that the new owners could prohibit pets. That’s not common, but it is possible. In a long-established condominium, the bylaws have probably served well for many years, so if pets are allowed, that’s not likely to change.

Pets are more easily accommodated, of course, in villa and townhouse condo developments than in highrise apartment condos. In the latter, bylaws sometimes limit pets to 10 kilograms each, and set a limit of one or two per condo home. Pooper-scooper rules are almost universal, as is the rule of having pets hand-leashed in common areas.

Various other rules are possible, depending on the needs of a particular building and the degree of responsibility shown by pet-owning residents. Some buildings require pets to be carried through common areas, including lobby, halls and elevators. Silly? Not when you hear of leashed pets being swept away on an elevator after their owner stepped out. That can be fatal for the pet.

Total discretion over pets is often given by bylaws to the Board of Managers. In other words, power rests with most Boards to allow or not allow any specific pet, or to prohibit any particular condo unit owner (or their tenant!) from having a pet.

Exercised with discretion, that authority can allow a Board to ban troublesome pets, or prevent pet ownership by irresponsible residents, yet can allow most of us to enjoy the company of Fido or Fluffy in our condominium apartment, townhouse or villa home.

Gerald Rotering is a condominium-specialist Realtor with Realty Executives, Chinook City, is President of his own building’s condominium corporation, and is a professional member of the Canadian Condominium Institute.
Extensive further information about condominiums can be found on his web site:

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