Question: I live in a condominium. I am an original owner and have lived here for ten plus years. One of the reasons I purchased a unit in this condominium is because they had minimal pet rules. I have two large dogs. The only pet restriction when I bought was a rule in the recorded declaration against tenants having pets. I just got notice that the board imposed a ban on all pets weighing more than twenty-five pounds, including existing pets. This is the first I have heard of this. Since the president of the board doesn’t like me, I predict I will soon be receiving a letter and ordering me to get rid of my dogs. Please confirm for me that this board action is highly illegal and that I can keep my dogs. C.H. (via e-mail)Answer: Pet issues are amongst the most highly contentious issues in condominium living. The answer to questions about your general situation will to some extent depend on specific language contained in certain provisions of your association’s governing documents, including the exact wording of the pet restriction and the extent of the board’s rule-making authority. However, based on the information you provided, it appears that your board has adopted an illegal rule.A restriction contained in a board-made rule cannot contravene a right contained in or inferable from your declaration of condominium, the governing document of highest authority. If your association’s declaration only prohibits tenants from keeping pets, and there are no other references to pet restrictions contained in the declaration, the board may have overstepped its authority by imposing this pet weight restriction by board rule. That is a pretty close call and would require legal review. Even if the weight restriction was properly added to the condominium documents, existing over-size dogs would have to be “grandfathered” according to case precedents.

Also, even if the board had the authority to adopt such a rule, the procedure the board used to adopt this rule appears to have been flawed and contrary to the requirements of the Florida Condominium Act. Any board meeting where the board considers the adoption of a rule which affects “unit use” must be noticed not less than fourteen days before the board meeting. Notice of such a board meeting must be posted and mailed/delivered to all owners at least 14 days prior to that board meeting.