Virtually all pet owners consider their pets important members of their family - that's no secret. But mixing pets and urban living can be a challenge, especially when buying a condo. Will the space be big enough? Does the building even allow pets? Addressing these variables can help reduce the stress in your real estate search.
The good news? Thanks to a growing population of urban dwellers who also happen to be dog owners, condominium developers are paying more attention to this extensive niche market. In fact, Toronto city planners are hoping to introduce new bylaws that would make amenities for pets mandatory in condo developments! In many new condo developments, it’s not unusual to find pet-friendly amenities such as pet grooming areas, an off-leash dog run area, as well as on-site pet care services. Living in urban spaces with pets is more achievable than ever, but we still have a long way to go. In fact, did you know not every building is pet-friendly?
If you're a pet owner considering purchasing a condo, here are a few considerations to ensure your pooch will love it as much as you do:
Concentrate on Buildings that Allow Pets.
First things first. There's no point in considering properties that prohibit your fur baby from moving in with you. In fact, many condos that do allow pets have restrictions on the number of pets allowed per unit, along with limits on their size. That’s why it’s important to let your realtor know you have, or are planning to acquire, a pet so that we can make sure the places you view meet your needs. In Toronto, every condominium listing on MLS includes codes indicating a level of permission for pet ownership in a building. There is a “Y” for "Yes" for pets permitted, a "R" for “Restrictions”, meaning inquiries should address what limiting restrictions exist, and an “N” for indicating pets are not permitted at all. Generally the “N” code in properties listed for sale can be deemed correct, but otherwise one should always complete one's due diligence on both the "Yes" and “Restriction” codes to confirm what the condominium's rules and regulations are with respect to pets (it's critical not to rely on the MLS listing in totality for accuracy, as the Seller is not liable for a realtor's error on MLS).
When buying a condo people often overlook whether or not their pet will be welcome or allowed in the building they are buying, but this oversight can be very costly, or heart-breaking, so it’s important to pay attention to these codes and verify this information. Always ask your realtor to look further into a building's policies on pets.
Read the Condo Rules and Regulations
How do you assure a condo will welcome your pet? You will find the answer in the condominium’s status certificate which will detail the rules and regulations you will be required to follow as well, in addition to the financial records of the condo corporation, the common-elements fees you'll be required to pay, the utilities you'll be responsible for and the condominium's engineering report with respect to future repairs and maintenance. The declaration or rules of a condo may prohibit pets, or regulate their type, number, and size. A prohibition on pets contained in the condominium's Declaration has been upheld by past Courts of Law, so one has to be wary on challenging what you might consider your right to have a pet. Potential buyers should always personally read the condominium documents to satisfy yourself on any conditions that may impact your enjoyment, or direct your solicitor to do so on your behalf. As a result, making your purchase conditional on review of the condominium documents is an intelligent step in ensuring you're well aware of what you're buying.
Match Your Dog to the Right Condo
Along with identifying the buildings that allow for pets, and knowing you need to still confirm the details in the Condominium Documentation, don’t forget that even if a building is pet-friendly it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for your pet. Just like people, all dogs are unique with their own different likes and dislikes, temperaments and energy levels. Living with a dog in a condo building, with multiple floors, halls and elevators, is nothing like having a dog in a house. Remember, you can’t just open the back door to let him out. You might be dealing with narrow hallways, noisy lobbies, long elevator rides and the presence of other dogs. It’s a different world out there in condo land with a new set of training needs.
How do you ensure that your pup will thrive in your new condo? Look for a space that complements your dog’s needs. No, this is not dog psychobabble. It’s actually pretty simple and trust me, it will make life easier for not only the dog, but also for you and your new neighbours.
Location, Location, Location.
Want to make life easier for you and your pup? Give up the view for a shorter commute. Speaking from my own personal pet experience, while you might enjoy watching a gorgeous view of the lake or the city from a 20th floor balcony, taking the stairs down from a lower floor for that morning walk without having to wait for the elevator is much more desirable. Are you living with a older dog? The sad reality is that many dogs in their adult or senior years have trouble holding things in, and waiting for an elevator in a busy condo tower doesn’t help. It’s much easier on the dog, and less stressful on the owner, when the bathroom pit stop is just a few flights of stairs away.
Another location factor to consider is where the unit is located. A unit away from common areas might be preferable, for dogs are much more sensitive to noise. Do you know how your pet reacts to noise? Some dogs are easily disturbed by activity in common halls, which incite them to bark. This in turn can aggravate other residents, who might find fault in you if your dog gets accustomed to making loud repetitive barking when you're out. Even during the quieter hours of the day and night the world is a noisy place for dogs, who can hear the high-frequency pulse of the crystal resonator used in digital alarm clocks, or even vermin in or around walls. Dogs can hear significantly higher frequency sounds than humans so, needless to say, the noise of the TV or radio won’t do much to drown out the sound of the elevator doors, a neighbour walking by, or the noise of the door slamming to the garbage chute. If you want to keep your pup calm and avoid getting the side-eye from your neighbours, consider the location and look for a unit away from the noise. Corner units are a great idea, as well as units further down the hall and away from the elevators. Remember - less traffic equals less barking.
Size is Not Always a Factor.
Ideal condo dogs come in all sizes and vice versa. Whether they are big or small the adaptability of a dog to a small living space depends primarily on the dog’s energy level and exercise routine. High energy dogs may be quite happy living in a small urban dwell as long as the owner is fulfilling the dog’s mental and physical fitness needs. The higher the energy level the more time you will need to spend doing activities with your dog like walking or jogging. While dogs with lower energy levels may require less activity, they still need exercise or they can become overweight, destructive and depressed. A good way to ensure that your four-legged bestie will be happy in their new urban setting is to find a building close to a park or a dog run. Dog-friendly green spaces and off-leash dog runs are becoming increasingly popular and many urban neighbourhoods have at least one in walking distance.
Besides the exercise factor, dog parks play an important part in socializing your dog and it’s also a great place to meet your neighbours. If you just don’t have time to throw the ball or walk with your dog for a few hours a day, hiring a dog walker is a wonderful alternative, especially if you have to leave your dog alone all day. With the growing number of dog owners in condos, dog-walking services have become very popular and easily available. Check out my 'Animal House' category here to see some examples!
Choose a Condo with Practical Finishes.
Hardwood floors can give a space a high-end vibe, but are not scratch-resistant. Generally laminate or even polished concrete floors are a much better choice and significantly easier to maintain. Also noteworthy is the fact that lighter tones are much better at camouflaging paw prints and dog hair. Dark floors can look great, but be prepared to spend your free time with a Swiffer in hand. A savvy buyer knows that a great property will not always have everything on their “want” list, so these may not necessarily be deal breakers but something to consider as a pet owner. If you find a property that otherwise checks all the boxes, remember that if your budget allows, you can make a few changes to the interior that will make the space more practical and easier to maintain.
Prepare your Dog for the Move
You can prepare your pup by making sure he is well trained and well socialized. In a condo, he’ll meet many more people and dogs than in the average suburb, and a dog who is fearful, aggressive or undisciplined will quickly become a problem both for you and your neighbours. Even if you don’t associate with your neighbors, you are all part of the same community sharing the same common areas together, and that requires consideration for the needs and comforts of everyone else in that community.
Finding the right urban dwell that fits your needs can be challenging, especially when you’re not just looking for yourself but also for your four-legged pal. But if you keep these six tips in mind, your search will be a walk in the park! And if you're ready to move, don't forget to ready my 8 Simple Times To Moving With Dogs.
If you're not currently a dog owner, but are considering becoming one, we reccommend this Essential Guide To Owning Your First Puppy by MyPetNeedsThat that will ensure you're fully prepared! Bring on the puppy love!!
Are you on the hunt for that perfect place to share with your pooch? Do you have questions or topic ideas about caring for dogs in the city? Contact us!
Guest Writer: Monika MacMillan, Sales Representative
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage - (416) 530-1100