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Problems with dogs?
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Problems with dogs?

   

Having dogs that cause discomfort or problems to others in the community has always been a controversial issue, because, at times, it is very difficult to find a ‘happy medium’ between the pet owners’ rights and the rest of the community members’ right to peace and quiet.

It is increasingly common to find court rulings which force pet owners to stop having pets i.e., by forcing them not to have dogs in a community for the inconvenience caused to their neighbours.

Obviously, these are cases where it would have been proven with hard evidence (reports, photos, sound recordings, etc.,) as well as statements taken from neighbours and police or municipal agents stating that the situation was unbearable.

An example of these rulings is a Judgement of 16th of January 2013 of the Regional Court of Valencia (Section 7a); in this ruling the importance of evidence in these types of legal cases was clearly stated: “ as factual evidence exists, the facts of which the claimant has used for the basis of applying section 7.2 of the Spanish Horizontal Property Act, documentary evidence as well as reports, such as court statements, especially that of the agent indicated stating that although the three dogs are not causing problems anymore, these problems have been caused in a continuous manner with the constant barking and dripping of urine.”

In the same sense, on the 25th of November 2003 at the Regional Court of Madrid (Section 11) : “It’s been proved by the claimant the existence of this permanent discomfort to the Community of owners, through the documentary evidence that has been provided (…) in which it is highlighted that from 1992 until the year 2000, several statements have been presented as well as individual and collective complaints, with files for sanctions initiated by the Town Hall, final penalties, with reports and intervention of staff of the municipal police that confirm the crucial fact of the existence of a large number of dogs inside the property and in the garden, as the reason for the illicit activity charged.

In view of the foregoing, it’s clear that in these sorts of legal cases, it’s very important to prove a continuous situation of discomfort and that the affected have acted diligently attempting to put an end to the problems.
It should be noted that prior to obtaining these court judgements, the first step should be to activate the one and only mechanism that is laid down by the Horizontal Property Act for cases of activities which are disturbing, unhealthy and harmful: this injunction is contained within Article 7.2 of this act.

So, as a preliminary step, the President of the Community should send a written communication to the owner responsible, urging for them to put a stop to the problem. In the event that such activity does not cease, a general meeting of the owners should be held where if approved by a simple majority, legal proceedings can be initiated in the normal way. The action may be brought against the property owner or against the occupier.

If the case is directed against the property owner and a favourable judgment won, in addition to the definitive cessation of the activity and compensation payable for damages, there could also be the loss of the right to use the property or premises (up to a maximum of three years) depending on the case. If the offender were not the proprietor, the court order could declare, all rights relating to the house or premises as extinguished indefinitely, as well as their immediate eviction.

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