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No pet policy? No problem. How to write one for your building

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Beloved though they are, pets can be a point of contention in any building, and it's always wise to have a policy in place regarding four-legged residents before you end up in a bizarre "no paws on the floor" dispute. So where to begin if your board is starting from (ahem) scratch?

If you're going to push for the "no pets allowed" option, Habitat writes, create separate rules for service animals—which you do have to allow; they aren't technically "pets"—in the building's disability-accommodation policy.

And if it's a more pet-friendly environment you're going for, you'll save a lot of headaches by laying out practical ground rules. Habitat recommends making mandatory both proof of vaccinations and collars with the owner's name and contact information. It's also a good idea to get the animals' photos on file for the building's records, just in case.

You and your fellow board members will also want to consider things like how to handle "accidents" in building common spaces (will you fine the pet's owner?), which kind of animals you'll allow (and how many per unit), and if you'll have any restrictions on size, among other things. And once you have the ground rules all laid out, one last crucial step: get owners to sign a statement that they understand and agree to the building's rules regarding their furry loved ones. After all, people love their pets almost as much as they love insisting that exceptions be made for their pets.

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