Can My HOA Make Me Get Rid of My Dog?
Can HOAs Really Make Us Get Rid of Our Pets?
Most homebuyers know to review the Homeowner’s Association's (HOA) documents provided by the seller during disclosures to ensure the rules will not interfere with their lifestyle. Yet, once they become homeowners, they often do not pay attention to bylaw changes over the years. So, when they find themselves beyond the violation of a bylaw, they are caught off guard. When a beloved pet is involved and affected, this can be very upsetting. But can an HOA actually force a homeowner to get rid of their pet? Often, they can.
An HOA has a duty to enforce restrictions to ensure the safety and well-being of the homeowners in the community. If they are within the guidelines of federal anti-discrimination laws, HOAs have the discretion to create their bylaws, including the complete limitation on having pet animals.
This is an extreme rule, however. Restrictions usually include the requirement to keep pets on a leash, to remove pet waste, and to keep pets off association grass or landscaping. Considered “reasonable restrictions,” an HOA may forbid a specific type of pet, such as a pig or bird, and may also limit the size or breed of a dog.
One exception to any restriction is the right of an owner to have a service animal. Another exception is if a member who has already had an animal when the rules changed. In most cases, these animals are authorized to remain.
Most HOA communities welcome pets, but an HOA does have the power to influence the standard of living within the community. Be cautious when understanding the HOA requirements and the climate of a community.