If you have a pet, you know that they are, “one of the family” in many ways. Nothing compares to coming home to a loyal companion who can bring comfort, security and, of course, unconditional love. But what if you live in a condominium that is run by a homeowners association (HOA)? Their job is to create pet policies that will benefit the group as a whole. Let’s take a closer look at what issues you may be dealing with in your HOA when it comes to common household pets as well as service animals.
Common Household Pets:
A typical homeowners association and the property management team that handles the maintenance, financing, and insurance for your place of residence will usually have a pet policy in place that will guide owners. The policies usually include rules that address:
- The type and number of pets allowed in an association.
- The size and breed allowances of each pet.
- Guidelines on pets being spayed or neutered.
- Guidelines on pets being up-to-date on all vaccinations and health exams.
- Rules for outside areas that can be used and guidelines for picking up and disposing of pet waste.
- Requirements that pets be on-leash while outdoors and meet all municipal rules and regulations.
In addition to these considerations, management will have guidelines on what to do if a pet causes damage, excessive noise or becomes a nuisance to other pets or condo owners. There will probably also be rules about pet identification and registration of new pets within the association.
There are other considerations when it comes to service animals: pets that work, provide assistance, or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. Under the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), a disabled person may use or seek to use an assistance animal in housing where the provider (the association) forbids residents from having pets or otherwise imposes restriction or conditions relating to pets and other animals.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a memo about when it comes to the question of a service animal. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the regulations narrow the definition of service animal specifically to dogs. “Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals.” Additionally, the definition of “service animal” excludes emotional support animals.
Creating a pet policy that is fair to all who live within the association is fairly straightforward and requires making rules that are fair and enforceable. Legal assistance may be necessary when making accommodations for homeowners who wish to apply for a service animal exception.