May 18, 2010

Dog Waste Problem May Cause Board to Implement Drastic Measures

The Scarlett Place Condominium in Baltimore is in the midst of a pooch poop predicament. According to a recent story in The Baltimore Sun, one board member believes that the amount of dog waste that is regularly left in the common areas has gotten out of hand, and he has proposed a novel way to identify the culprits – DNA testing. All dog owners would be assessed $50 per animal to cover testing costs and $10 per month to cover removal costs. A Tennessee-based company would create a database representing all pets at the Condominium and match offending samples to a particular dog. The dog’s owner would then pay a $500 fine.

Boards of Washington condominium and homeowners associations should be cautious when contemplating new regular assessments on a specific group of owners. Assessments must generally be charged on the basis of the percentages or values found in the association’s declaration or covenants. The Washington Condominium Act does permit all condominium associations in the state to charge common expenses benefiting fewer than all of the units exclusively to the units that are benefited, but only if such authority is explicitly provided for in their declarations. If an association’s declaration does not provide for the authority to charge certain common expenses to benefited owners, the declaration can be amended to give the association that power.

There are other possible ways to deal with dog waste that do not involve new assessments on dog owners or fines for noncompliance with removal rules. For example, dog owners could be persuaded to periodically assign one of their number to pick up the poop. The association could also include a line item in the annual budget to pay an owner to perform this task.