Bedbugs or dog sniffer. Which would you prefer in your condo? For one condo owner, having a dog which sniffs out bed bugs, was too much for him to handle in his no dog building, even though Scout, a Black Labrador-Border Collie mix was trained and used for the specific purpose of getting rid of bedbugs in his condominium building. Christopher Parker sued the Association and its board for permitting Scout to reside with one board member, citing that the board should have carried out a vote of the owners to propose a change to the rules which currently prohibit dogs.
Associations, hotels and apartment buildings in Chicago are continuing to try to deal with the bedbug infestation that has become widespread throughout the City. The Association had invested $10,000 in the training of the dog to assist in getting rid of their bedbug problem and the board’s position is that this dog provides a much-needed service to the Association. Supposedly, bedbug sniffers are hard to come by and the Association is fortunate to have one.
The board has tried to enter Mr. Parker’s unit with the dog to sniff for bugs. However, Mr. Parker is seeking to prevent the board from entering his unit though court proceedings. This board is taking an innovative approach to dealing with the bug infestation. It is unfortunate that this has now become a legal battle over whether Scout should be permitted to reside in the condominium.
The board does have a duty to manage the common elements. Where there is a potential health or safety risk to residents, the board has an obligation to take steps. This often includes entering the units to remedy the problem. In Ontario Section 19 of the Condominium Act gives any person authorized by the condominium corporation to enter units upon giving reasonable notice, as long as it is to perform the objects and duties of the corporation or to exercise the powers of the condominium corporation. This would include entering a unit for pest control purposes.
The question in this case is should the Association be able to use a dog sniffer to provide services where dogs are not permitted in the building? There are exceptions to prohibitions and restrictions in condominium documentation. Human rights legislation has impacted condominium corporations and now boards must allow condominium residents with seeing eye dogs and hearing ear dogs to reside in condominiums where there are pet prohibitions in their corporation’s documentation. Should a bedbug sniffer and other animals who provide services to a condominium corporation fall into a category of exemptions to prohibitions?
It will be interesting to see how this one turns out.