Breeding Tensions in Massachusetts Condominiums


Image courtesy of Edward Simpson

Massachusetts initial foray into breed specific ordinances can be attributed to several enacted by the city of Lynn, MA in the 1980s. Several years later, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reviewed the ordinances and noted that the existing law was subjective in nature and relied on dog officers unrestricted discretion in dealing with potential violations. Since then, most breed based legislation has relied on standards set by the American Kennel Club to legally identify breeds in lieu of proper documentation. What does this have to do with condominiums?

Massachusetts recently amended M.G.L c. 140, Section 157, which formerly permitted breed based local restrictions. With the provision repealed, some trustees have been asking themselves if this invalidates breed based clauses in their current Master Deed. The good news is that it doesn’t. Section 157 only deals with regulations on the state, county, and city level. Condominiums are considered private property, and can set their own rules and regulations concerning everything from smoking to pet ownership. As long as an association has adopted breed specific by-laws and such are recorded in the Master Deed, it is free to restrict dogs based on breed.