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Room for Rover? How to Find a Dog-Friendly Condo

Room for Rover? A Guide to Shopping for a Pet-Friendly Condo

Pet ownership is at an all-time high in Canada, and millennials are putting off every traditional adulthood milestone except pet ownership. With so many dogs joining households, pet-friendly condos are in demand. But not every condo board will welcome your furry family member with open arms.

So how do you determine whether the condo you’re interested in buying is pet-friendly?

Most condo corporations (an organization made up of the owners of the condos within the building) have restrictions on pets, either outlawing them completely or restricting the quantity, size, type or even breed.

It’s important to find out what these rules are before you make an offer to purchase. Otherwise, you may end up having to choose between the home of your dreams and your dog. Here’s what to look for to determine if the condo you’re considering is dog-friendly.

Check the Declaration and By-Laws

In order for the Land Titles office in your province to issue certificates of title for the individual units in a new condo building, a condo corporation must be registered to govern that building. When the condo corporation is created, a declaration and by-laws must also be submitted.

These by-laws outline the rules all condo owners must follow, and penalties that the corporation can impose if condo owners fail to follow the rules.

If you’ve viewed a condo and you’re interested in making an offer, but you’re concerned about whether or not pets are allowed, you can check the declaration and by-laws for restrictions on pet ownership.

You’ll probably find rules and regulations regarding the type of animals that are allowed (for example, no exotic animals or no livestock). There may also be restrictions about the number of pets allowed per unit, and the maximum size dogs allowed.

Finally, some condo corporations ban certain breeds, so if you have a bully breed, keep an eye out for these restrictions.

If this information isn’t readily available before you make your Offer to Purchase, ask your real estate agent to request it on your behalf.

The last thing you want is to be bound to an offer only to find later that you can’t bring your dog along!

Check the Dispute Process

If you’ve determined that your dog conforms to the by-law restrictions set out by the condo corporation – great! But there is another section that you should check, and that’s the penalties the condo corporation can impose for nuisance dogs.

It’s possible that during some point of your condo ownership that your dog may be a nuisance to other unit owners. Whether it’s an episode of barking while you are away at work or an overly excited greeting to an elderly neighbour, mistakes happen, and you could find yourself the subject of disciplinary action.

It’s important to review the penalty process and determine what the standard process is – will you have to pay a fine or will the condo corporation immediately force you to remove your dog? Is private mediation or arbitration the standard protocol? Who pays the legal fees? Even the best-behaved dog makes mistakes, so it’s important to know the process before you commit to ownership.

Observe and Interview Neighbours

If you can, take some time to observe the residents of the condo building determine what is considered acceptable behaviour for resident dogs. When you see no dogs and find out that most people only have cats, your large Burmese Mountain Dog may stand out like a sore thumb.

But, if the building touts itself as dog-friendly and features pet washing bays, a dog run, and grooming area (as some Toronto condos do), you may not have to worry about your dog’s penchant for slobbering on everyone within a three-foot radius.

Observation is a good start but can’t be your only source of information, because there are some circumstances where condo owners may have pets that do not conform to the building bylaws and rules. An example of this is if a person with a disability requires a service dog that is larger than the maximum size specified by the bylaw. The condo corporation will make an exception to accommodate a person with a disability, but they may not do so for you.

Find the Condo Building that Is Right for Your Lifestyle

Most condo corporations do not arbitrarily restrict pets. Most of them place restrictions on the number, size, or type of pet you can keep to cultivate the atmosphere their residents would most enjoy. If the building is always deathly quiet and the barking of a large dog would shatter that silence – is this building going to suit your lifestyle in the long run?

Whether you join a quiet building with only a few other pets or a certified dog-friendly condo building with dozens of furry neighbours, always make sure to keep the pillars of responsible dog ownership in mind. Always clean up after your pet, a quiet dog is a good dog, and remember that not everyone loves your dog as much as you.

Good pet owners make good neighbours! Keep these rules in mind, your condo owning experience will be a pleasure for both you, your pup, and your neighbours.

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