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QUESTION/ANSWER BY: JOHN H. GETTINGER, ESQ.

Question:

Our association does not allow pets. But, of course we must allow service dogs of which it seems everyone has one nowadays. May we fine owners who allow their service dogs to urinate or defecate on common ground whether or not they pick it up? It still leaves a residue.

 

Answer:

Typically, homeowners association by-laws give the board the power to adopt reasonable rules and regulations governing the use of the common areas. The board may adopt a rule which prohibits dogs from urinating and defecating on common areas whether or not it is cleaned up. However, rules and regulations adopted by the board must be reasonable. A complete ban may be unreasonable. Moreover, the board, after granting a unit owner a "reasonable accommodation" of the "no-pet" restriction under the Fair Housing Act, by permitting the unit owner to harbor a service dog, may not pass a rule which effectively undermines the "reasonable accommodation." As such, I recommend that the board designate a specific portion of the common areas where service dogs are permitted to urinate and defecate provided that the unit owner cleans it up. As far as the board having the power to a fine unit owners who may violate the rule, you need to review your by-laws to determine if the board has the power to fine.

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