Are you a pet parent? If you’re planning on purchasing a property or unit in an area with a homeowners association (HOA) or condominium owners association (COA), listen up. While associations welcome pets with open arms, it’s worth mentioning that HOAs also put certain pet restrictions in place. Associations enforce these rules to ensure that their residents feel safe and that the pets aren’t an annoyance to the community.
In this article, we’ll outline the common pet policies that HOAs and COAs put in place. That way, you’ll understand your duties as a pet-owning homeowner.
What is a homeowner’s association?
A homeowner’s association (or a condominium owner’s association if you’re from a condominium community) can be found in communities where its residents share resources, such as pools, playgrounds, etc. The association is run by a board of directors whose main duty is to maintain the community’s aesthetics and preserve property values. To do this, the board creates policies such as its Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) that outline what homeowners can and can’t do.
You can find everything you need to know about your association by checking its governing documents. Ask your property management company if you don’t know where to look.
Why do homeowners associations create pet policies?
HOAs and COAs enforce pet policies for two reasons: to keep the place looking pristine and to keep the peace. It’s the role of the association to ensure that potential homeowners see the appeal of the place, hence, they create rules that protect its appearance. For example, it’s not uncommon for an HOA to restrict the colors that residents can paint the exterior of their properties.
The second reason, to keep the peace, guarantees that pets – particularly dogs – aren’t a nuisance. Aside from local noise ordinances, homeowners are required to follow the HOA’s “quiet hours”. So, if your dog starts barking endlessly in the middle of the night, it can be a problem.
What are some common HOA pet policies?
HOAs and COAs are private entities, hence, they can create whatever rule they want as long as it’s lawful. For example, a board that wants to ban all pets – excluding service dogs – would be able to. However, since around 85 million homeowners own a pet according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), it would be unwise for associations to stop people from owning a pet. That’s why HOAs and COAs create pet policies instead.
Here are some common samples of HOA and COA pet policies:
#1 Number of pets on the property
A common pet restriction in an HOA or COA is how many pets a homeowner can own. This includes all types of pets such as dogs, cats, and so on. Some associations don’t allow homeowners to own a pet that weighs over 30 pounds, while others have straightforward policies such as limiting each homeowner to two pets per unit. HOAs and COAs tend to limit the number of pets a person can have so that things don’t get out of hand. In addition, it would be hard to control the noise if homeowners were allowed to own multiple pets.
#2 Allowable dog breeds
The association can also disallow residents from owning a specific dog breed. Associations tend to ban large dog breeds such as Pitbulls because they’re considered a “danger” to the community. Although a dog’s breed doesn’t have anything to do with its behavior, it’s still a common misconception among HOAs and COAs. Unfortunately, whether or not the rule is enforceable depends on the law.
If you’re planning on purchasing a home in an HOA-regulated community, consult your property manager first. Associations tend to ban dog breeds including German Shepherds, Great Danes, and Rottweilers.
#3 Waste cleanup
It’s common for pet-friendly associations to ask homeowners to pick up after their pets. After all, who wants to walk around the neighborhood with the risk of stepping on dog poop? Homeowners can be obligated to get rid of poop from common areas as well as their front lawns. By doing so, the HOA can maintain the neighborhood’s curb appeal and keep the community safe from the health risks associated with pet poop.
HOAs often offer free dog poop bags and place trash cans around the community to encourage pet owners to clean up. If a homeowner doesn’t pick up after their dog, they’ll likely get fined.
#4 Loud barking
HOA pet policies tend to apply to dogs, like barking regulations, for example. Although dogs are expected to be a bit noisy, what the HOA doesn’t allow is excessive barking. With that said, dogs that bark constantly (e.g. in the middle of the night) will likely disrupt the way of life for other homeowners. The board of directors can ask the homeowner to provide a solution to the barking problem, such as taking the dog on a walk at night to tire it out or keeping the dog indoors instead of in the backyard.
Don’t know what your association’s noise restrictions are? Ask your property management company to look into it so you don’t get an angry complaint from your neighbors.
#5 Keeping dogs on leashes
Another rule your HOA or COA can enforce is to require homeowners to keep their pets leashed when they’re taking them out on a walk. A pet that’s allowed free-roam isn’t only a danger to others, but also to itself. If anything, this regulation is in the pet’s best interests. Besides, it’s one way to prevent the pet from running away.
Pro Tip: Do you have homeowner’s insurance? Even if your dog is the sweetest in the world, there’s no guarantee that it won’t bite others. If you don’t have insurance, consult our property managers to figure out the type of coverage you should get.
Aside from the appeal of the property, you should also consider the pet policies that the association put in place. If you’re in the market for a property in South Florida, our property managers can conduct a check of different pet policies from multiple HOAs and COAs to help you choose a house that will welcome you and your furry friend with open arms.
As expert property managers, we’re also familiar with the pet screening process that your HOA or COA might put your pets through. We can guide you through this process so you don’t need to worry about a thing!