Friday, February 09, 2007

The Trouble With Pets

Meet Buddy, my building partner's new dog, recently rescued from the ASPCA. KB and I love animals, but due to our hectic work schedules we don't have a pet. So we are happy to dog sit and cat sit whenever anyone in the building needs some respite from the responsibilities of pet ownership.

But even as a veteran TIC owner and animal lover living in a building full of animal owners, I am here to warn you that there is no single issue more likely to cause strife among your group's members than squabbles about pets. The one and only significant altercation I have experienced amongst my building's members since buying into this building seven years ago had to do with a smelly, aggressive, under-exercised pedigree who terrorized the building's residents for two years before we had the gumption to request his removal. They say there are no bad dogs, only irresponsible owners, and in this situation that appeared to be the case. But the cause becomes irrelevant when property has been damaged, people have been nipped and numerous attempts to enforce the rules have persistently gone unheeded.

Your TIC agreement is intended to protect the group from this kind of irresponsibility. TIC agreements have clauses about pet care and pet behavior, such as keeping animals on a leash in common areas, acceptable levels of pet noise, numbers of pets allowed per unit, size of pets, types of pets and requirements for cleanliness. There is also a nuisance clause, which allows the group to vote on removing a pet who is deemed to be a serious and chronic hazard.

If you are purchasing a TIC, you should read this section of your agreement carefully. If you want to incorporate more specifics regarding pet behavior, or perhaps add a clause that allows you to request a meeting with any new owner's pets before approving their application, don't be intimidated. Ask for that section of the agreement to be revised.

You should also have a frank conversation with your potential building partners about pet ownership and their attitudes towards animals. You might be eyeing up that patch of grass behind the building as a place to grow a garden and walk around in your bare feet. Your partners might think it would make a great dog run. It is better to discover and negotiate those differences before you finalize any deal.


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