Vancouver condo deal falls through when strata says dog is two inches too tall

With just two inches, an accepted offer on a condo went to the dogs for these first time Vancouver homebuyers.

As renters who long had trouble finding dog-friendly apartments, Kristin and Steve McIvor had been looking forward to buying a space where their medium-sized dog Zoey, a seven-year-old rescue dog, was welcome.

The newlyweds were excited to finalize their offer at the new development at Fraser and 27th Avenue this spring when they discovered the strata bylaws stated dogs can only be 20 inches tall from the ground to the top of their shoulder.

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Zoey

Zoey the lab-boxer cross. (Metro/Jennifer Gauthier)

They pulled out the measuring tape only to discover Zoey, a lab-boxer cross, was about 22 inches tall.

“We were told you were allowed to have two dogs,” Kristin said. “But they don’t tell you the fine print until you put in an offer.”

They attempted to get an exception based on Zoey’s calm demeanour (the McIvors even got reference letters from their vet), but since the building is new strata bylaws could only be changed by a unanimous mail-in vote.

Out of 18 resident votes, two voted against Zoey.

The McIvors could have followed through with the deal in hopes the strata would change the bylaw at its annual general meeting, but they would have risked having to pay a $200 fine per week for contravening the rule.

“It’s just such a strange rule because a height of the dog has nothing to do with the temperament,” Steve said. “Really, the whole thing comes down to an inch on a dog.”

The couple, who wound up spending $40,000 more to purchase a different condo in another part of town, hope their frustrating experience teaches other first time buyers to look closely at strata bylaws before placing an offer and securing financing.

Stratas, which are governed by B.C.’s Strata Property Act, are allowed to make their own rules, including restrictions on pets. Strata bylaws overrule city bylaws when it comes to property use.

While city council will vote this week to find ways to make it easier for pet owners to find accommodating rentals, it’s not clear whether any changes would affect strata properties.

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