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When is a condo dog just a dog?

Condominium associations must sometimes take on the role of Solomon to decide what is fair against the letter of the law spelled out in the condo covenants.

This is the situation that Environ Towers I Condominium Association of Lauderhill, Florida finds itself after denying a resident’s request for a support animal.

Doctor says woman needs support

lawsuit, filed in Broward County, states that Patricia Cintron suffers from debilitating depression as well as being the primary caregiver for her terminally ill mother. Her physician provided documentation about her need for the support animal.

The association denied the request, stating that the documentation was legally inadequate. Cintron filed a complaint in Broward County in March and after attempts at reconciliation failed, Cintron decided in late October to proceed with a civil suit.

Pets, landscaping, parking are problem areas

Pets are a common component of association bylaws. These covenants can cover many other items including mailboxes, lawn ornaments, noise and landscaping. They are meant to create uniformity and functionality among all the tenants or homeowners.

The Community Associations Institute reports about 20 percent of Americans live under a condo, homeowners or co-op association, according to U.S. News and World Report. The CAI adds that in a 2014 survey, 64 percent said they are satisfied with their community association while about 25 percent said they faced a significant disagreement with their board.

The survey cited landscaping and parking as the main problem areas.

U.S. News and World Report offers these tips for both association members and leaders:

  • Know the rules and covenants before you move in
  • Follow procedure
  • Petition to change outmoded rules
  • Volunteer to help in the association
  • Avoid costly, divisive court battles

The important thing to remember is that homeowners sign into community associations of their own free will and by-laws are binding.

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