Condo Line

Can condo allow cats but ban dogs?


By Richard White

Q: Our condominium documents do not permit dogs or cats in any unit. The board discussed revising the documents to allow indoor cats, which has been done successfully by nearby associations. The board refused to consider this any further when they were advised that allowing indoor cats but not dogs would be illegal discrimination under Florida administrative code is this true?

R.R., Clearwater

A: When people are offended, they start throwing around words that they think fit the situation. Discrimination is one of those words. It has multiple meanings, some of which are not illegal. Under federal law and state law, discrimination against dogs is not illegal.

Some illegal acts of discrimination are against race, nationality, sexual orientation, age and disability, groups that are protected by federal laws. Dog lovers and dog haters do not have that protection with one exception: service dogs and pets as found under the Americans with Disability Act.

I suggest that the board ask owners if they want to allow house cats. If the majority agrees, then all the board has to do is establish a board policy that they will not enforce the no-pet policy. Then the board does not need to modify or amend the documents.

The problem with this is maybe you’ll have an uprising from some of the owners who do not want pets in the building, or in future years a board may reverse the policy. It would be advisable for the board to seek an opinion from the association’s attorney.

Q: I live in a mobile home community. We are resident owned and governed by the board of directors, which operate under the community documents. My question involves the election of board members to fill two vacancies this year.

One resident has submitted his name to be included on the ballot. In checking the county records, I find the home he lives in was purchased by his wife. His name is not on the purchase agreement nor does it appear on the Joinder and Consent of the Cooperative.

I am able to determine that a person must be a shareholder in order to qualify for the board seat, and that appears in our bylaws. Is it possible to be a shareholder even though his name is not on the deed nor is he recognized on the Joinder?

E.A., Tampa

A: Since the statutes have very few qualifications to be a candidate, in most cases a person off the street could be elected to serve on a community board. They do not need to be an owner, resident, or even occupy the unit/home.

There may be restrictions in your documents, as indicated in your question. I’m not sure if your documents will override the statues and for that reason I suggest the board seek an opinion from the association attorney.

Sometimes you have non-owners or non-residents who wish to serve on the board for various reasons and really are better qualified to serve the community’s interest than any of the owners. Unless you find that your documents restrict him from being a candidate, do not belittle his potential to serve on the board.

Q: Is there a website or other place to find a step-by-step plan of action for a condominium association when a resident applies for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and stops paying their monthly maintenance fees?

The association was notified that a hearing will be held that creditors are invited to attend, and the association president will attend. The resident stopped paying monthly maintenance last month.

D.S., Tampa

A: Any time you receive a legal notice you have only a few days to reply to that legal notice. You must answer all legal notices sent or delivered to the association. It means you must have an attorney representing the association to answer the notice. Failure to answer may result in a default on the notice.

Bankruptcy will stop the association from proceeding with other matters or collections. Do not try to answer any notice but turn the matter over to the association’s attorney immediately. A legal notice served on the association requires immediate attention. The clock starts counting and when you pass the final deadline, which is usually 20 days, you are in default of the pending legal matter.

Write to Condo Line, Richard White, 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., #201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115, or e-mail Include name and city.

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