BY MARILYN WILSON, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN JUNE 28, 2012
I must admit that I love watching reality TV real estate shows. Not long ago, I was watching an episode of one of my favourites, Selling New York, in which an agent was scouring the city for two clients — a man and his pet reptile.
The client knew he had the unthinkable condo accessory, a pet iguana, and asked his agent to find a building that would accommodate his roommate before he could fall in love with a reptile-free building. The agent succeeded in finding him a home he loved at the price point he wanted and the iguana got a gorgeous new home and a whole room to himself.
Pets are a huge part of many peoples’ lives. They are our friends, our family. We talk to them, we cuddle with them, some of us even feed them from our plates.
So, when looking for a new condo, you must consider the needs of all your companions: dogs, cats, rabbits, parrots and whatever else might comprise your menagerie. Each condo corporation has its own rules about pets. Some enforce these rigorously, while others are more lenient.
If you have no pets of your own, you must also consider whether there are any other pets in your life. Will your daughter ask you to take care of her Siamese for the weekend? Are you allowed and properly equipped to pet-sit?
One definite no-no is leaving the front door ajar, giving the dog the run of the 12th floor. Of course, I can’t help but wonder what happens when a pet snake slithers out the door. Will it camouflage itself in your neighbour’s tie collection?
Before you move into any condo, consider the compatibility of the facility with your pets in the same way you would for your children. Is your pet too energetic for this lifestyle? Will you be able to take it outside conveniently and as often as required? There will be no more letting the dog loose in the backyard for playtime. Now you’ll have to bundle up and take the elevator down.
You also need to consider whether your pet makes too much noise for the given living situation. Will disgruntled neighbours telephone you or the manager at 3:02 a.m. begging for a little quiet time?
If you think condo living and your pet can coexist, then you must check the condo corporation’s rules to avoid untenable scenarios.
Allergies and fears are other thing to consider. Some people may be fearful of a pet that, to you, seems a cuddly and sweet ball of fur. That ball of fur may be menacing in the eyes of a dog-phobic neighbour. Some condos insist that you carry your pet when in the elevator to help quell such fears — consider any limitations you may have and Fido’s true weight if this is the case.
Pet-induced allergies are another concern, especially for visitors to your condo. Dander and other allergens will be more concentrated in a smaller condo than in a larger single-family dwelling.
Whatever the condo’s pet rules, make sure your pet fits within the permissible guidelines. You don’t want to have to sneak your 45-pound dog out at night because there is a 30-pound limit.
When buying a condo, your lawyer will review the status certificate, which identifies all the condo corporation’s rules and the consequences should they be broken. If your dog barks excessively, for example, you may incur a fine and sometimes the fines increase with each complaint. Of course, penalties may take different forms and be more severe.
If you don’t want to be the pet pariah of your building, use your condo sense and make sure you operate within the rules so you and your pet can live happily.
Marilyn Wilson has been selling real estate for more than 23 years and owns Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties Inc. Brokerage, an Exclusive Affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. She can be reached through dreamproperties.com or follow her on Twitter@marilyn_wilson.
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