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Real Estate Corner: Owner may have to get rid of pooch

QUESTION: Several years ago, my building changed the rules and stopped allowing pets. Because I had my dog back then, I was grandfathered in and allowed to keep it. After it died, I got a new puppy to help me deal with my grief. Once the association found out, I started receiving violations and fines. I tried explaining to the manager that I was grandfathered in but was told that this only applied to my old pet. What can I do?

— Dana

ANSWER: You may have to find a new home for the puppy, but there is one option you should try first.

As with any issue regarding community associations, review the governing documents and state law to be certain. And the rules can vary slightly depending on whether you have a condominium or homeowner’s association. When a community association decides to change a major rule, it will agree to allow existing unit owners that would be in violation of the new rule to be exempt.
For example, a condo that bans renters might allow an existing landlord to finish the lease with his tenant, but not allow a renewal of the lease or a new tenant. When your dog passed away, your grandfathered status ended and, just like your neighbors, you are not allowed to get a new pet.
But consider this: Because the dog is helping you deal with grief, look into the possibility of having your doctor certify that your pet is necessary for emotional reasons. Pet restrictions do not apply to service animals or therapy dogs.

Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. Send him questions online at or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.

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