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Dog Poop is Serious Business

Headlines were made recently by a landlord’s attempt to find out which tenant/dog owner allowed his pooch to leave some “surprises” in a rental building stairwell.

The landlord sent all dog owners living in a Burnaby apartment building a letter (along with a plastic bag) and demanded doggie DNA in the form of stool samples so that they could be submitted to a company called “Poo Prints”. This is a company that specializes in matching DNA in feces samples with specific dogs. The landlord could then determine the owner of the offending canine so that they could dispense the appropriate punishment. Needless to say, the landlord’s actions caused some controversy.

As humorous as this situation seems, it highlights a problem that also exists in many strata complexes.

Strata councils are often faced with complaints about lazy, irresponsible pet owners who believe that need not follow bylaws or extend common courtesy to neighbours.

Aside from the annoyances of a mine field of dog poop left behind by uncaring pet owners, this type of behavior often creates an environment of disrespect between neighbours. In turn, these situations often lead to petty squabbles and ongoing bad relationships, pitting owner against owner and putting strata councils in the middle of these disputes.

Sometimes, these “bad feelings” intensify and lead to uncomfortable living situations for homeowners. Once this occurs, it becomes easy for very trivial matters to become a major irritant, which sometimes leads to long (and expensive) legal battles.

If you feel that certain bylaws are unfair or inappropriate, you may not be the only one. So don’t just ignore them: try and change them!! If the necessary numbers of owners vote in favour of changes or additions to a strata corporation’s bylaws during an annual or special general meeting (as long as the procedures in the Strata Property Act are met) then change can happen. There you have it: democracy in action!!

The moral of this poop story is that generally speaking, a strata corporation’s bylaws exist for the protection of the owners’ investment in the strata corporation and to make for a friendly, enjoyable living experience. So follow the bylaws, even the inconvenient or unpopular ones. Even if the bylaws do not specifically deal with situations like the one described above, use common sense and be respectful of other owners.

Remember, the best way to avoid conflict and have a good experience in a strata context is to be actively involved with your strata corporation and most importantly, be a good neighbour.

To find out more about our strata practice, please contact Silvano Todesco at 250-763-4323 or [email protected].

This article has been written by Silvano Todesco, an associate at Doak Shirreff LLP. It is intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. The legal issues addressed in this article are subject to changes in the applicable law and the merits of any potential claim are always fact dependent. Readers should not take legal action, or refrain from taking legal action, in reliance on the information contained in this article without first obtaining legal advice specific to their situation.