How to Find Pet Friendly Condos
By Steve Gillman - 2012
Finding pet friendly condos seems like an easy enough task.
Just ask the listing agent for any particular unit about the
rules, right? Not quite... As we discovered when we moved to
Naples, Florida, real estate agents often know almost nothing
about the rules and regulations of the properties they sell.
In fact, we found that something as simple--and important--as
the dues you must pay each month or quarter are incorrect more
than half of the time in the listing information. Information
on the pet policies is incorrect or nonexistent on just as many
listings. We have seen listings saying "no pets allowed"
"with approval," and "limits"--all in the
same development. And no, they do not make the rules unit by
unit, so someone has to be wrong.
More than one person suggested that we simply lie about the
cats and move them in at night. It was tempting, especially after
discovering that 90% of places would not permit two cats. By
the way, a loud dog that messes up the grass is perfectly fine
in many places where two indoor cats that nobody will ever see
are forbidden. But then the cats might be seen. In fact,
our cats' two little heads are likely to be in the widow at the
same time eventually, or one after the other, and they do not
look enough like one another to fool people into thinking they
are the same cat.
Some places claim they are pet friendly condos, but there
is often a one-pet limit. Now, how do you find out just what
the rules are? Get ready for some serious work. You might hope
that you can just have the real estate agent you are working
with check on this for you, but don't count on it. The time spent
will be too much for him or her to contemplate.
You could start by calling the listing agent. He or she might
know what the rules are. More often, though, you will be told
that you'll get a copy of the rules when you make an offer. Of
course, if your point is to avoid making offers on places that
you can't actually live in, you have to go elsewhere for information.
In general you have to locate the management company that handles
the condominium development. Here's how I have been doing that...
Look at the listing information and find the name of the development
or subdivision. Sometimes this will be confusing, but note any
names you find. Winterpark Condos here in Naples, for example,
are actually split into several developments, called Winterpark
1, Winterpark 2, and so on, each with different rules. But in
any case, this is where you start. If, for example, you see a
subdivision name of "Laguna Villas," and a development
name of "Star Point Condos," you probably need the
Now you can search Google for "Star Point Condo Association,"
or "Star Point Association," or something similar.
If you are really lucky, that might yield a URL of an association
website, but don't hold your breath. Most of them do not have
a website. More likely you will find (with various attempts to
guess at the legal name) a link to the required state reports
or a listing on a site that has information on corporations (try
http://www.corporationwiki.com). In this case it might say "Star
Point Homeowners Association Company Profile" or "Star
Point Homeowners Association Annual Report" or something
Once you get that far you need to look for the registered
agent. If it is an attorney, you will then look him or her up
online to get a phone number. If the agent has a common name
you might need to add the name of the city when searching. Then
you can call the office of the agent and ask who manages the
condo development. If you are lucky the registered agent will
be a management company, and you can look them up online to call
Now, it common for associations to go through many management
companies over time, so this may not be your final destination.
But usually, if the company no longer handles the development,
they will be able to tell you which company does. Once you get
the right company, you can ask them about the specifics of the
pet policy. While you are at it, ask them to verify what the
association dues are, because the real estate agent almost certainly
got them wrong.
At this point you should know if you have identified a pet
friendly condo development. But, alas, some management companies
do not know what the rules and regulations are for the places
they manage (it isn't clear that they always know what "manage"
means). They may just refer you back to the listing agent to
get the rules and regulations. If this happens, I suggest that
you make life difficult for the listing agent until he or she
finds a way to send you the rules by email. After all, it is
really ridiculous to expect you to make an offer on a home without
any idea whether you can even live there.
Good luck, and if you get too overwhelmed, remember that you
can always buy a home on land to avoid the hassles of finding
pet friendly condos--sort of. Some single-family-home neighborhoods
around here still have pet restrictions, and houses cost twice
as much as condominiums. It might be time to lie, and try to
train the cats to look alike and look out the window one at a
Note: Just after writing this we called on a condo
which was advertised as "pet friendly," only to discover
that the agent who described it that way had no idea if two cats
are allowed. If after we move in they ask us to get rid of a
cat (we never would), or worse, can they really claim to be friendly
to us or our pets?
Another Note: If in the future, after our cats have
passed on, we live in a development that doesn't allow cats,
I plan to put six very realistic cat mannequins in various
windows at different times. They will make no sound, of course,
so how could they offend? And if they do bother someone, I will
allow legal proceedings to advance just so far before revealing
their true fake identities, and it will be a lesson to whoever
tries to go after my silent kittens: Mind your own business!
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