Question: I live in a townhouse style condominium that is comprised primarily of young families and, consequently, we have quite a few dogs in the community. Our recorded Condominium Declaration states: “No more than two (2) pets shall be maintained per UnitThe Board of Directors may promulgate additional rules and regulations regarding pets.” Our Board of Directors has passed a board resolution changing the number of pets allowed per unit from two (2) pets to one (1) pet.  My son is heartbroken that we will have to choose which one of our dogs we have to give away.  Can board members just make up their own rules?Answer:   Most of the time the answer to your question would be yes because association governing documents typically, but not always, give the board the right to enact rules and regulations regarding the use of the condominium property and the units (usually with a majority vote of the board members). Boards need to be able to enact rules in order to promote the health, safety and welfare of all unit owners and, hopefully, create a harmonious living environment.  However, I would say “not so fast” in your case even though your Declaration gives the board the right to enact rules and regulations regarding pets.  I would have to review your governing documents to make sure that there are no other provisions that would give the board members the right to change the number of pets allowed, but absent any provisions other than those you cited above, your board of directors does not have the right to pass a resolution to do so when it will contradict the Declaration.

Section 55-79.71 of the Virginia Condominium Act requires “two-thirds of the votes in the unit owner’s association” to amend the Declaration, unless the Declaration requires a larger percentage.  The board’s authority in your Declaration to promulgate additional rules and regulations means just that – only additional rules that are not already provided for in the Declaration can be enacted by the board of directors.  For example, the board can enact rules requiring pets to be on leashes or in carriers while on the common elements and requiring owners to clean up after their pets, but they can’t change the number of pets allowed without the required owner consents to amend the Declaration.  In other words, neither a board resolution nor a board enacted rule can amend any provision of the Declaration.  Rules should also be reasonable and must apply to all owners.

Most likely this board resolution can’t compel you to give up either one of your four-legged family members and any amendment to the Declaration should contain a clause allowing existing pets to remain until the owner moves or the animal is deceased.