Sunday, May 27, 2018
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Community Living: Unenforced dog rule should be removed

Unenforced dog rule should go

Q: I live in a condominium complex of several buildings, each with its own Blue Book. The building I live in is pet friendly. The Blue Book says that an owner can move into the building with a dog but cannot replace the dog when the dog dies. Over the years this rule has not been enforced.

Our current board decided to start enforcing the rule and called a special meeting for this purpose. Although the individual directors were against the rule, they voted to start enforcing the rule. They discussed the grandfathering of those with pets.

Are dog owners being discriminated against? What would the procedure be for the owners to vote to remove this rule from the Blue Book? Would you suggest that we hire an attorney to accomplish these changes?

A: For those that do not know, the Blue Book refers to the documents and the rules and regulations.

I will answer the last question first. Yes, engage an attorney. The following will answer why I make that suggestion. The power of rules is the right of enforceability. That is the question, how do you enforce a rule? The board has powers to enforce rules but they have limits.

Here are some things that they cannot do: Go to the unit and remove the dog, hit the owners on the head with a bat, or slander the owner along with other negative actions. If the documents allow, they can fine the owner. The one action allowed is to send letters to the violators and demand that they comply with the rules.

Beyond these two actions, the board has no other enforcement powers. Their next step is to turn the matter over to an attorney to take legal action. If the attorney cannot get the owner to comply, then the board must approve court action. In the end, the judge is the final enforcer.

As to the question of discrimination: no, because it was written in the documents (your Blue Book) and you should have known of the rule. To the second question, I would suggest that the owners vote to remove this rule as it has not been enforced for years. Such a situation would provide any violation the excuse of Laches defense in court (meaning the rule was abandoned). Thus, I would suggest that the board seek legal guidance on how to proceed.

Only board can change pool policy

Q: I live in an adult community. We only have one swimming pool with a policy that children can only be in the pool for certain hours. Recently our manager extended the pool hours for children. Can management legally do this without a vote of the members or any input from the members?

A: The manager alone cannot alter the hours as you indicate. Unless your documents have such hours for children, the board of directors can establish pool policy as long as they comply with state swimming pool laws. It would be my feeling that the board instructed the manager to change the hours. You need to address your question in writing to the board of directors.