HOA Pet Restrictions: Limits on Dogs But Not On Children?!
By Ryan Westerman
Homeowners’ Associations (or “HOA’s” as they are commonly referred to) are the governing bodies that make, change, and enforce the rules of the community for which it was incorporated to run. HOA’s govern real property complexes, like a condominium building or a senior citizen development.
Property owners within the complex are members of the HOA and are encouraged to attend and participate in the meetings where communal issues are discussed and often colorfully debated. Members vote in elections for the purpose of elevating other members to the HOA’s board which influences the decisions made on behalf of the community. Some issues are reserved to a board member vote. Some issues are held to a general vote by all members of the community. As with any vote, there are winners and losers. Sometimes the loss can be heartbreaking.
An HOA for a recent buyer represented by the Hunnell Law Group voted to change their pet restrictions with a result that I found to be patently unfair but also having the possibility to tear a family apart.
It’s a safe conclusion that most people with pets view them as members of the family. #Furbaby has over 17,500,000 million posts on Instagram as of this writing. Our pets are our children. We feed them, take them to the doctor when they’re sick, and in return there is a mutual love like no other. You can imagine my shock when I read the following change to the HOA pet rules:
“Any units having more than one (1) pet as of May 2012, will be considered “grandfathered”.
“Grandfathered” unit owners shall not be allowed to add or increase the number of pets above the current number of pets in the unit as of the approval date of this publication.
“Grandfathered” unit owners shall not be allowed to replace pets in the event the current number of pets decrease as a result of death of a pet unless it is the last pet in the unit.
These new rules were enacted in 2021. Thus, any current member that took in a second pet after May 2012 (almost NINE YEARS AGO!) could have to give them up. There is no fairness to this rule any way you cut it. First, the rule should be enforceable as of the day of it’s passing. Members should be on notice of such dramatic life changes so they can decide not to take on a second pet, rather than be forced to give them up. Taking away someone’s pet is inhuman in my humble opinion no matter how long you have them. As with any relationship, the bond only grows stronger with time.
I personally have difficulty finding this rule to be enforceable. However, unless the affected party can negotiate with the HOA or afford a lawsuit, chances are Fluffy will have to go. Or Spike. A true Sofie’s choice.
#realestate #attorney #HOA #woof #meow
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Stephanie Hunnell, Esq. , Ryan Westerman, Esq. and Caitlin Holland, Esq.