One of the top issues that HOAs face is related to residents and their pets. Usually, it is highly recommended to have a clear HOA pet policy to avoid a lack of compliance from residents and irritation from other residents who do not want pets in the community. If your HOA is considering a new pet policy or revising your existing pet policy, it is highly recommended to consider the tips below:
Separating Service Animals from Your Pet Policy
Depending on the demographics of your community, there will be some residents that may require service animals. These animals are trained to provide necessary assistance to residents and should not have the same restrictions as traditional pets. If this is stated clearly in your pet policy, it will help residents understand your community’s exception made for service animals.
What to Do About Dangerous Pets?
There are some species of dog that are more aggressive than others. One common example is a pitbull, a dog breed with a temper. It is not uncommon for some HOAs to limit the size or breed of dog that can live in the community. The key to these restrictive policies is to make them clear from the very beginning, ideally, before a resident purchases property in the community.
Some HOAs will also limit what the property owner versus their tenant can have in terms of pets. Be sure to make all of these regulations very clear, so it will help your other residents feel protected from dangerous pets that are causing issues within the community.
How to Draft a Clear HOA Pet Policy for Your Residents
HOA pet policies must be clear and well-written. Do not use advanced writing. The instructions must be basic so that all of your residents will have a clear idea of what the expectations are within your community.
Communities that do not invest in the proper time to draft a clear pet policy will face disputes between the HOA and residents along with residents to other residents. By making every regulation clear from the beginning, there will be a better atmosphere in the community overall.
Pet Clean Up Policies
Another common complaint is for pet owners that fail to pick up after their pets. HOAs that invest in clear signage in common areas and parks along with providing plastic bags will have far better results for cleanliness. If residents have forgotten about the policy, it is wise to send an announcement out in the newsletter or to bring the topic up at the next meeting so that residents can be reminded and ask questions.
Wild Animals vs. Pets
There are times when residents attempt to make wild animals pets. This is particularly true if your community is located in a more rural area. It is best to have a clear regulation against making wild animals pets and to have a list of acceptable pets in the community along with the fees required to have them in the community, if any, each month. HOAs that make this clear from the outset will have far fewer disputes in their communities.
What to Do About Barnyard Animals
If your community is located in an area where barnyard animals are common and your properties have larger yards, your HOA board of directors needs to have a discussion about which barnyard animals are allowed. Barnyard animals are complex to manage because they have severe odors.
Depending on the culture and demographics of your community members, barnyard animals may be acceptable. Make sure to have a clear policy on barnyard animals in order to avoid confusion amongst your residents.
The Benefits of Having Leash Restrictions
A common issue that occurs in communities is when dog owners do not put their dogs on leashes because they feel their dog is well-trained and will not cause any issues. If this happens, the dog may run up to another dog or human and bite them or the other animal may be frightened and start a fight with the dog. This can lead to legal liability for the down owner and a major dispute within your community.
Having clear leash restrictions in a very useful way to ensure that all animals are always on leases at all times. This is also a benefit to pet owners since animals can be hit by cars if they are off of their leashes too often in communities with more traffic.
Have Clear Regulations and Fines in Place
The effective start to any pet policy is to have a long debate with your HOA board of directors about which kinds of pets should be permitted in your community. Based on this discussion, it will be possible to review the existing pet policy and then make changes that residents will have to follow. Once these changes are made, clear policies need to be drafted and residents need to be put on notice about what the new expectations will be.
Information about fines and violations will also need to be discussed at a meeting or announced in the community newsletter. Residents will need time to ask any questions they may have. By following these guidelines, HOAs will more likely have success with establishing and enforcing their pet policies with their residents.
The last thing any HOA would want to deal with is residents fighting each other over their pets or the residents arguing with the HOA board due to pet restrictions. It is imperative that there is a clear HOA pet policy made known to every resident in the community. If the HOA management notices a resident who owns a pet, they should take the time to explain the rules and regulations to make sure everything is clear. If you need more advice on how to deal with pet ownership in a community, don’t hesitate to call us.