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Limitation on Size of Condo Owners’ Dogs Required Amending By-Laws, Not Just House Rules

             While the protections of the business judgment rule are broad, they are not unlimited.  In another recent case, a condominium board passed a house rule limiting the size of unit owners’ dogs to 25 pounds.  While the house rule was approved by the board, it was not presented to or voted on by the unit owners.  One owner sued seeking to invalidate the rule, arguing that the board lacked authority to adopt it and that this type of change could be made only by amending the by-laws, with the approval of two-thirds of the unit owners.

An appeals court agreed with the unit owner and struck down the house rule.  The court observed that condominium board actions are generally protected by the business judgment rule.  Here, however, the unit owner established that the by-laws did not authorize the board to limit dog ownership by unilaterally adopting a house rule.  Rather, “[s]ince neither the condominium bylaws nor the condominium declaration . . . contained any restriction on the size of dogs permitted on the condominium premises, the house rule constituted an amendment of a permitted use of the plaintiff’s unit, which, pursuant to Article X of the condominium bylaws, required approval by 66 2/3% of the homeowners at a noticed meeting, and an amendment to the declaration.”  Accordingly, the court declared the house rule null and void.  Turan v. Meadowbrook Pointe Homeowners Association, 2022 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 7087, 2022 N.Y. Slip Op. 07255 (2d Dep’t Dec. 21, 2022).