House hunters who love cats or dogs have one more thing to think about when house hunting. Some condo associations restrict all pets. Some associations restrict cats or dogs. . Some restrict dogs or cats, unleashed or uncrated, but only in the hallways.
Some big associations ban dogs only. Some that don’t ban dogs will still fine owners if the dog does his or her business on the property. Some also limit the number of cats allowed, per unit.
As buyer’s agents, we rely on the listing agents to provide information about pet restrictions (there is a field on the listing form). However, before making an offer, we double-check that, since pets are important to these buyers.
Insurance companies cancel policies for property with certain kinds of dogs in residence.
More condo associations are getting pickier about what kind of dogs are allowed. The reason is insurance. Insurance companies either refuse to insure, or charge more to insure, properties with certain breeds of dog.
Insurance companies have been cracking down on dog owners by cancelling policies of anyone who has certain breeds of dogs in residence. That seems grossly unfair, since dogs vary in behavior based on both breed and upbringing.
I looked at four different insurance companies and all four had a list of unacceptable breeds. Only one had an exemption for well-behaved dogs. (That company required an American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizens program certificate and a completed company questionnaire that proves the dog to be reliably safe among people.)
More fair and reasonable is the restriction of dogs that have caused an insurance claim or are known to be aggressive. Of the four companies whose restrictions I reviewed, one had breed as the only criteria. The other three restricted breeds or restricted dogs based on their behavioral deviance.
Should a condo association say what dogs are allowed to live there?
Insurance companies can cancel the insurance for the whole condo association if someone there adopts a dog or puppy from the restricted list. Does that make condo owners want to change their condo docs? For some, yes.
What dogs are on the list?
Bull Mastiff or Mastiff
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Or any mixture of these breeds. That means a condo association can lose their insurance over a mutt living on the property, even if he or she is well behaved.
Dogs are Not Just a Condo Issue
Single family homeowner’s insurance may also have a clause about what dogs may live on the property. If you are a homeowner, you may find yourself insurance shopping, if your company adopts a policy that includes your pet on the restricted list.
Sometimes a town or city issue
The research and advocacy of groups like DogBite.org show the extent of dog-related death and what breeds tend to be responsible. Advocacy for bite victims has lead to more than 1000 municipalities and military facilities that have outlawed the keeping of some dog breeds. Mostly, these rulings aim to limit Pit Bulls and Wolf Dogs, but other breeds are also mentioned.
Currently, Massachusetts does not have any local law or ordinance that restricts any breed of dog to live in any municipality. However, Vermont has towns that ban Wolf Dogs.