Irish Times Property Clinic 25th day of June 2015.
Publishing Date; Thursday the 25th day of June 2015.
Q We live in a small development in Dublin that is effectively all apartments. Each property has its own hall door to the street so there are no lifts; each property also has its own private, enclosed space outside (small garden or patio). We bought the property a few months ago and moved in recently. The management has a list of house rules for the development regarding parking, noise, etc. There is also a rule that says: “No animals which cause a nuisance and no dogs.”
We have a small family dog. I would prefer to have bought a house with a garden, but this property was the only one within my means in the area I wanted to live in. At least five other residents have family dogs. One of the dogs has lived here for five years, but the owner has had a number of approaches over the years asking them to get rid of their dog. They ignore the approaches but find it very unpleasant.
All of us are extremely responsible owners, either driving or carrying our pooches out of the estate for walks. I work from home, so the dog is rarely alone. What is the status of this no dog “rule”? Has it any legal weight? What can they do? As far as I am concerned I have an animal which does not cause a nuisance, but it is a dog. I can understand why there might be issues with communal stairs and lifts if people are allergic to animal hair, etc. But I think it is totally unreasonable to dictate to people who buy their own properties and are good neighbours and cause no problems.
I have no problems at all with my immediate neighbours who all admire my dog from time to time and as usual I am told it is just a tiny number of people who, of course, run the committee who have any problem with animals. I would really appreciate your guidance. Our dog is a member of our family, and I have one daughter crying in case we are forced to get rid of our pet.
A. All members of an owners’ management company (OMC) subscribe to the governing lease agreement and the house rules; as such the system does not have an “opt-in opt-out” function for the purpose of uniform clarity and equity.
As with all generic OMC lease agreements, there will always be an element of unsuitability for some members at either end of the spectrum of domestic residential use. You find yourself in the minority of which your personal circumstance does not conform to the pre-agreed system that makes up the sections of the lease in your development.
To articulate the point of rule-choosing, if you found that your neighbours were not paying their service charges, were leaving their clothes out to dry every day or were leaving their radio on all night, you may not be happy as it may not be a lifestyle choice that marries with yours.
It is the responsibility of every property owner within an OMC to be aware of the governing lease and binding house rules, so that they can observe same and be reasonably confident that their fellow members would oblige them in following the predetermined agreed rules.
An OMC works well when all members comply with the lease agreements and house rules. An OMC does not function as a prosperous living environment or as a suitable investment if members and their tenants ignore the lease and house rules.
A member of the OMC may take their case to the Circuit Court by way of application to the court under section 24 of the Multi-Unit Developments Act, 2011. This recourse is in place so that aggrieved members of an OMC may have their rights enforced as per section 24 (5)(M). Prior to this application the aggrieved member(s) should have made attempts to enter into mediation or a suitable dispute resolution process for the purposes of trying to avoid wasting the court’s time.
In my experience, many people have had a negative childhood experience to make them fear dogs, are allergic to their hair, do not enjoy listening to them bark or having them near their young children.
Paul Huberman is a chartered property and facilities management surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI)
Author: Paul Huberman of H&H Property Management Consultants Ltd
Publish Date: 14/05/2015