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Subject: HOA Dog Policies
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RickH10
(Florida)

Posts:2


09/27/2021 9:19 PM  
Our community has minimal regulations on dogs in the community. Our R&R says a maximum of 2 dogs per home, but we have multiple case with 3, 4, or 5 dogs. Our R&R state no pit bulls, but we have one homeowner with 3 pit bulls. We have one board member that practices HOA law in Florida and he says we don't need to be the dog police and it should be up to the homeowners how many and what types of dogs they have. If somebody gets bit, it is strictly between the homeowners (victims and dog owners) and the association has nothing to do with it. I concerned that if a dog bite happens on common property, we can be sued. Our insurance agent says we do not have insurance for dog bites and they won't give it to us. The insurance company says it is up to the dog owner to have insurance, but I found most homeowner policies exclude animal liability insurance.

How are other HOA's handling this topic?
PatJ1
(North Carolina)

Posts:254


09/28/2021 1:36 AM  
Just because it's written in the R&R's does not mean it's enforceable. Topics such as pet rules, carpeting requirements, banning sub-woofer's, not supported by the recorded governing documents are not violations. R&R's are written and changed at the discretion of the Board. These rules can overstep their boundaries unless they are given the authority to do so by the governing documents.

City and county ordinances can limit pets or prohibit certain breeds, have leash laws, prohibit excessive barking. Violations of ordinances are best enforced by local authorities.

Dog bites are an owner to owner issue. The HOA can not protect, nor should they involve themselves, in personal safety areas. It is advisable that R&R's be legally reviewed prior to publishing.

http://communityassociationmanagement.com/c49-legal-compliance/c57-ask-the-experts/how-to-decipher-hoa-pet-rules/

Board members are volunteers. Many have no idea what they're doing. Educate them. Don't beat them up.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2475


09/28/2021 5:01 AM  
I'm going to disagree with Pat a bit and say that it will depend on the nature of your community.

I'm in condos, we have a pet restriction in our CC&Rs in addition to the township's leash and vicious animal laws, and homeowners only own the interiors of their homes (everything on the exterior is common elements).

Among other things, our pet restriction gives the association to remove a problem animal *at the board's sole discretion*. According to our attorney, if the association does not enforce the pet restriction on the common elements and someone gets bitten, the association may very well be found liable.

In an HOA with single family homes and lots owned by the owners, then the association would have to worry about areas outside of those lots: streets if private, green space, and amenities such as a clubhouse or play areas.

I do agree that the board should allow the local officials to enforce the laws that they can since they have more tools and can get people's attention.

Where the OP's community may have trouble is that the board has not been enforcing the rules that they do have (it's not clear whether those are actually restrictions or only rules).

If I were in the OP's situation, I'd be having a chat with the association attorney about how to approach enforcement of these rules and come up with a plan. It may be that the board is limited in what they can do, but usually it takes a court case to determine whether or not ignored restrictions can be enforced. (We're also lucky that our CC&R have a statement that reads "failure to enforce any of the provisions in this document does not preclude enforcement of any other provisions, nor does it preclude enforcement of any and all restrictions in the future." If the OP's CC&Rs have something similar, it will help that community get back on track.)
MichaelS56
(Minnesota)

Posts:279


09/28/2021 5:54 AM  
Cathy, very good information.
DouglasK1
(Florida)

Posts:1681


09/28/2021 6:05 AM  
According to Rick, the rules are in the Rules and Regulations, not the CCRs. Without seeing the CCRs it is hard to say how enforceable the dog rule is.

I would suggest having the association attorney review the rules in context of the CCRs and give an opinion on whether the rule is legally enforceable.

Escaped former treasurer and director of a self managed association.
PatJ1
(North Carolina)

Posts:254


09/28/2021 6:38 AM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 09/28/2021 5:01 AM
I'm going to disagree with Pat a bit and say that it will depend on the nature of your community.

I'm in condos, we have a pet restriction in our CC&Rs in addition to the township's leash and vicious animal laws, and homeowners only own the interiors of their homes (everything on the exterior is common elements).

Among other things, our pet restriction gives the association to remove a problem animal *at the board's sole discretion*. According to our attorney, if the association does not enforce the pet restriction on the common elements and someone gets bitten, the association may very well be found liable.

In an HOA with single family homes and lots owned by the owners, then the association would have to worry about areas outside of those lots: streets if private, green space, and amenities such as a clubhouse or play areas.

I do agree that the board should allow the local officials to enforce the laws that they can since they have more tools and can get people's attention.

Where the OP's community may have trouble is that the board has not been enforcing the rules that they do have (it's not clear whether those are actually restrictions or only rules).

If I were in the OP's situation, I'd be having a chat with the association attorney about how to approach enforcement of these rules and come up with a plan. It may be that the board is limited in what they can do, but usually it takes a court case to determine whether or not ignored restrictions can be enforced. (We're also lucky that our CC&R have a statement that reads "failure to enforce any of the provisions in this document does not preclude enforcement of any other provisions, nor does it preclude enforcement of any and all restrictions in the future." If the OP's CC&Rs have something similar, it will help that community get back on track.)





This has nothing to do with the "nature" of the community. It is about what is contained in the recorded governing documents and how far the board can reach out/in when writing and enforcing R&R's. Many issues are governed by local laws and ordinances.

In NC R&R's are not recorded as governing documents. Perhaps in Ohio the boards have further reach to place restrictions that can be successfully upheld by the board.

Best to research your states HOA's statutes and local laws/ordinances to determine the best remedy.




Board members are volunteers. Many have no idea what they're doing. Educate them. Don't beat them up.
AdamL1
(Idaho)

Posts:117


09/28/2021 7:39 AM  
To piggy back on this top, what do this group think of these pet CCR's and dogs?


--------------------
Animals/Pets.
No animals, birds, insects, pigeons, poultry or livestock
shall be kept on the Property unless the presence of such creatures does not
constitute a nuisance. This paragraph 4.19 does not apply to the keeping of up to two
(2) domesticated dogs, up to two (2) domesticated cats, and other household pets
which do not unreasonably bother or constitute a nuisance to others. Without
limiting the generality of the foregoing, consistent and/or chronic barking by dogs
shall be considered a nuisance.
--------------------------

Someone posed recently that this means that, as written, you get 2 dogs and 2 cats 'for free' and then after that (3, 4, ..., n), the nuisance rule test applies to decide if its allowed.

-------------------------
- No [animals] are allowed unless they are not a nuisance.
- The above line does not apply to up to 2 dogs and up to 2 cats.
-------------------------

I know, many of you are going to read this as saying "only 2 dogs are allowed," however, i've read many other CCR's and many often say something explicitly like "no more than 2 dogs are allowed. Period." As it's written, this legal language seems to say that the nuisance test applies to any dog after 2. Look at your section. What does it say? We as members can only rely on the specifics of what the CCR's and rules say, not interpreting novel definitions.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8620


09/28/2021 8:58 AM  
I tend to agree with Cathy. If dogs are any kind of a nuisance on the common areas, the Board can enforce its rules. BUT, it's much easier for boards if there are restrictions in the CC&Rs and it's not clear if the OP, Rick, means CC&Rs or rules.

While only 2-3 incidents over a dozen years, Residents have called animal control in our elevator building about dog nips. In one case we did call the owner to a hearing. We have materials in our CC&Rs and our Rules & Regs elaborate. We do have the option of requiring the dog be muzzled, which was our decision based on the hearing, IF a second incident occurs. In a neighboring elvoatr budding, there is a dog who must be caged in the elevators and other interior common areas. The owner takes its dog out of a unit in a cage on a little wagon.

If dogs bark frequently or incessantly, a resident usually calls staff and they confirm the noise nuisance and owners can be called to hearings. A courtesy (warning) letter has solved this violation.




LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:1429


09/28/2021 2:15 PM  
HOA's typically wii not get involved in neighbor vs neighbor dog issues. HOA's can and should get involved when there is a CC&R violation. A while ago, I was walking my two dogs, I saw an garage door that was ajar so I crossed the street to avoid walking past it because I knew from previous walks that two Chihuahuas lived in the residence and they were alway unleashed. Well this time they ran after me and my two dogs. Both chihuahuas went after my smaller dog and my Husky wasn't having it. I go to pick up my smaller dog and nearly got bit myself. Both my dogs got bit, I called animal control that came out and fined the owner. I filed a complaint with the HOA and they sent a letter to the homeowner that they were in violation of three covenants. That was the extent the HOA got involved.
MichaelH34
(North Carolina)

Posts:43


10/04/2021 1:22 PM  
Correct to think that a CCR rule like the following would require (encourage?) the HOA to get involved?

"5.03 Nuisance. No owner of a Lot or Dwelling shall do or permit to be done any act, or
accumulate any items or animals upon his property which is, or may become, a nuisance"
DonnaR5
(Virginia)

Posts:138


10/04/2021 1:25 PM  
I have also had my dog attacked by a neighbor's unleashed dog. Twice. I consider it a police matter, not the HOA's business. (In a townhome community)
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8620


10/04/2021 2:14 PM  
In your case, donna, and if you have a convent or rule thing dogs must under the control of. someone capable of handling it, consider both. Call the police or animal control AND call the alleged violator to a hearing for violating your HOA's rules.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4239


10/04/2021 3:57 PM  
Posted By AdamL1 on 09/28/2021 7:39 AM
To piggy back on this top, what do this group think of these pet CCR's and dogs?


--------------------
Animals/Pets.
No animals, birds, insects, pigeons, poultry or livestock
shall be kept on the Property unless the presence of such creatures does not
constitute a nuisance. This paragraph 4.19 does not apply to the keeping of up to two
(2) domesticated dogs, up to two (2) domesticated cats, and other household pets
which do not unreasonably bother or constitute a nuisance to others. Without
limiting the generality of the foregoing, consistent and/or chronic barking by dogs
shall be considered a nuisance.
--------------------------

Someone posed recently that this means that, as written, you get 2 dogs and 2 cats 'for free' and then after that (3, 4, ..., n), the nuisance rule test applies to decide if its allowed.

-------------------------
- No [animals] are allowed unless they are not a nuisance.
- The above line does not apply to up to 2 dogs and up to 2 cats.
-------------------------

I know, many of you are going to read this as saying "only 2 dogs are allowed," however, i've read many other CCR's and many often say something explicitly like "no more than 2 dogs are allowed. Period." As it's written, this legal language seems to say that the nuisance test applies to any dog after 2. Look at your section. What does it say? We as members can only rely on the specifics of what the CCR's and rules say, not interpreting novel definitions.




Don't worry about CCRs in other communities - you don't live there.

In this case, I'd interpret this as limiting pets to two dogs, two cats and perhaps some other critter the homeowner would ensure wouldn't be a nuisance. Whether that means the owner could throw in a potbellied pig, a python, duck, etc, is probably open to debate. The key for me would be If the animal(s) create a nuisance, such as noise or stink. If they stay in the house all the time, it wouldn't be my issue - the trouble starts if, say, the python was slithering around and went after one of the dogs that went after LetA's dog.

(Hey, this isn't chapter 54 of your ongoing saga with the beehive is it?!
RickH10
(Florida)

Posts:2


10/04/2021 7:34 PM  
I appreciate all the feedback on this topic. With all of your input and research I have done, I am proposing an animal policy be added to our rules and regulations. I am showing below a draft that I have sent to our community lawyer to review.

Animals/Pets.
No animals, birds, insects, pigeons, poultry or livestock
shall be kept on the Property unless the presence of such creatures does not
constitute a nuisance.

All animals that have the ability to bite with the possibility of causing personal injury must be registered with the community management within 14 days of acquiring the animal.

As part of the registration process, each animal must wear a community registration tag to identify the animal.

The registration policy will require each animal owner to provide all necessary city/county/state registration papers along with proof of any required shots as required by the local governing agencies.

The registration policy will also include a certificate of insurance for each animal showing liability coverage for any animal bites.

The board will consider all types of animals as long as the animal does not become a nuisance due to noise, smell, or other type of offensive behavior. The board has the right to decide if an animal will be acceptable within the community. Animals that exabit offensive behavior may be asked to be removed from the community within 30 days of written notice from the board of directors.

Dogs are limited to two dogs per household. The board of directors has the right to refuse any breed, size, or weight of dog on an individual basis. All dogs must be on a leash when not inside the residence.

Cats are limited to two cats per household. Cats may run free within the neighborhood as long as they are registered per the normal registration policy. Cats that kill birds or other animals may be requested to leave the community.

The board may develop rules for other animals as necessary.

Failure to register an animal will constitute a violation of the community rules and regulations. This violation can result in a fine of up to $100 per offense and failure to remedy the violation in a timely manner can result in additonal fines up to $100 per day up to a maximum of $1,000.
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:768


10/05/2021 3:59 AM  
Rick, if I was on the board I would never go for this. The effort that is needed to manage this is not worth any potential benefit.

1.) Registration tags cost money and would require some type of database listing what dogs have the tags. In addition, if an owner doesn't keep up with the required shots how are you going to know and who is going to track this and revoke the tag?

2.) Who is going to track the certificate of insurance for each dog and ensure it's done annually?

3.) The only way you can accurately issues fine for failure to register is to track all the city/county/state registration paper, annual shots, insurance coverage and associated tag for the dog.

The bottom line is this policy requires a lot of tracking and the creation of some type of tracking system. It also requires someone to reach out to each owner if their info is not updated annually. In our community the PM's time is too valuable to be spending hours on something like this. As a volunteer board member, I would not be willing to spend my time on this.

Anytime you are thinking about doing something this involved, the first thing you should consider is a cost/benefit analysis. My question to you is, can you define what the benefit is and is it great enough to justify the policy and the time and effort that will go into it? Maybe in your case it is but I personally could not justify the man hours or the labor costs that would be used for this.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2475


10/05/2021 5:34 AM  
Posted By RickH10 on 10/04/2021 7:34 PM
...snip ...
Cats are limited to two cats per household. Cats may run free within the neighborhood as long as they are registered per the normal registration policy. Cats that kill birds or other animals may be requested to leave the community.

... snip ....



Ha! Killing other animals is part of a cat's job description. If a cat is so disabled that it can't catch anything, then it will act as a consultant to other cats and spend the rest of its time plotting ways to topple the current world order... :-)

Our (condominium) pet policy applies to all animals and the board has the authority to remove an animal at its sole discretion. All pets must be leashed and under the control of a human while on the common elements (this means no tethering the pet and leaving it unattended). This policy reflects the county leash law, so any animal running free violates that as well as our condo restriction.

Cats use mulched areas as litter boxes, so the "pick up solid pet waste" applies to them as well. An owner can't do that if the animal is allowed to roam free.

Any policy that says a problem animal may be "requested" to leave the community is worthless, although there can be something workable between this and the board having sole discretion and final say.

(In addition to which, we have wild animals in the area that prey on household pets - in the last year a pack of coyotes took a small dog from the street behind me and a great horned owl took a cat. It's not unusual for me to spot a fox or something with a dead animal in its mouth when I'm out for a walk. We have the occasional rabid raccoon running around causing mayhem. And never mind the rattle snakes and other slithery things. Anyone who loves their pets will not allow them to roam free.)



JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11539


10/05/2021 8:51 AM  
Posted By RickH10 on 10/04/2021 7:34 PM
I appreciate all the feedback on this topic. With all of your input and research I have done, I am proposing an animal policy be added to our rules and regulations. I am showing below a draft that I have sent to our community lawyer to review.

Animals/Pets.
No animals, birds, insects, pigeons, poultry or livestock
shall be kept on the Property unless the presence of such creatures does not
constitute a nuisance.

All animals that have the ability to bite with the possibility of causing personal injury must be registered with the community management within 14 days of acquiring the animal.

As part of the registration process, each animal must wear a community registration tag to identify the animal.

The registration policy will require each animal owner to provide all necessary city/county/state registration papers along with proof of any required shots as required by the local governing agencies.

The registration policy will also include a certificate of insurance for each animal showing liability coverage for any animal bites.

The board will consider all types of animals as long as the animal does not become a nuisance due to noise, smell, or other type of offensive behavior. The board has the right to decide if an animal will be acceptable within the community. Animals that exabit offensive behavior may be asked to be removed from the community within 30 days of written notice from the board of directors.

Dogs are limited to two dogs per household. The board of directors has the right to refuse any breed, size, or weight of dog on an individual basis. All dogs must be on a leash when not inside the residence.

Cats are limited to two cats per household. Cats may run free within the neighborhood as long as they are registered per the normal registration policy. Cats that kill birds or other animals may be requested to leave the community.

The board may develop rules for other animals as necessary.

Failure to register an animal will constitute a violation of the community rules and regulations. This violation can result in a fine of up to $100 per offense and failure to remedy the violation in a timely manner can result in additonal fines up to $100 per day up to a maximum of $1,000.




Add to it all animals must be tattooed with the name and address of the owner.
AdamL1
(Idaho)

Posts:117


10/05/2021 9:25 AM  
Posted By SheliaH on 10/04/2021 3:57 PM


In this case, I'd interpret this as limiting pets to two dogs, two cats and perhaps some other critter the homeowner would ensure wouldn't be a nuisance. Whether that means the owner could throw in a potbellied pig, a python, duck, etc, is probably open to debate. The key for me would be If the animal(s) create a nuisance, such as noise or stink. If they stay in the house all the time, it wouldn't be my issue - the trouble starts if, say, the python was slithering around and went after one of the dogs that went after LetA's dog.

(Hey, this isn't chapter 54 of your ongoing saga with the beehive is it?!




Thank you for feedback. No, not my beehive issue. Just more deep diving into the CCR's. So, genuinely curious why your interpretation does not consider the first sentence. (No [animals] are allowed unless they are not a nuisance.) So, I've asked a bunch of lawyers and they all agree that as written, the contract cannot limit the qty, as long as they pass the nuisance test.
AdamL1
(Idaho)

Posts:117


10/05/2021 9:38 AM  
Posted By RickH10 on 10/04/2021 7:34 PM
I appreciate all the feedback on this topic. With all of your input and research I have done, I am proposing an animal policy be added to our rules and regulations. I am showing below a draft that I have sent to our community lawyer to review.

Animals/Pets.
No animals, birds, insects, pigeons, poultry or livestock
shall be kept on the Property unless the presence of such creatures does not
constitute a nuisance.

All animals that have the ability to bite with the possibility of causing personal injury must be registered with the community management within 14 days of acquiring the animal.

As part of the registration process, each animal must wear a community registration tag to identify the animal.

The registration policy will require each animal owner to provide all necessary city/county/state registration papers along with proof of any required shots as required by the local governing agencies.

The registration policy will also include a certificate of insurance for each animal showing liability coverage for any animal bites.

The board will consider all types of animals as long as the animal does not become a nuisance due to noise, smell, or other type of offensive behavior. The board has the right to decide if an animal will be acceptable within the community. Animals that exabit offensive behavior may be asked to be removed from the community within 30 days of written notice from the board of directors.

Dogs are limited to two dogs per household. The board of directors has the right to refuse any breed, size, or weight of dog on an individual basis. All dogs must be on a leash when not inside the residence.

Cats are limited to two cats per household. Cats may run free within the neighborhood as long as they are registered per the normal registration policy. Cats that kill birds or other animals may be requested to leave the community.

The board may develop rules for other animals as necessary.

Failure to register an animal will constitute a violation of the community rules and regulations. This violation can result in a fine of up to $100 per offense and failure to remedy the violation in a timely manner can result in additonal fines up to $100 per day up to a maximum of $1,000.





Just want to point out that I've read a few dozen different CCR's and your draft basically nerfs itself.

The first sentence: No animals allowed unless it is not a nuisance. Nuisance is a clearly defined term, both in CCR's, city code, and state law. As long as the animal passes the nuisance test, the CCR's cannot ban it.

If you really want to control this, you should remove the "nuisance" test.

regarding cats and dogs, I would put that as the next sentence, saying something like: The previous sentence does not apply to [whatever exception you want]. Some CCR's say "no more than 2 dogs and/or 2 cats," some say "any combination of dogs/cats, up to 3 per household", etc, and add in some more terms for birds and other common household pets.

regarding all the other stuff: you really need to think of what kind of management and overhead you're writing yourself in to....is the HOA board really going to manage a registry of hundreds or thousands of pets? Is the HOA really going to insure each animal? Is the HOA really going to sue someone because their 5th grader didn't register the pet hamster? Is the Registration actually an application for consideration or simply the paperwork to register? Is the Board really going to call meetings every 2 weeks to ensure that registrations don't miss the 14-day rule? so many points of failure that risk making this section legally invalid.

You should probably check the legal about daily fines....

being ok with free-range cats? Who will be policing the bird murders?

----------------------------
This is a poorly written proposal and I certainly wouldn't support it.

Also, you need to check your CCR's to see if there's some sort of term or section that talks about how new amendments must fit with the existing CCR's. Many CCR's have rules that say that new amendments cannot restrict a right/freedom/activity/whatever that previously existed under the CCR's. Yes, you can make new amendments, but you can't take away something that was previously allowed.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2475


10/05/2021 9:49 AM  
I agree with JohnT38. Keep it simple, objective and treat all pets the same(*), or you'll have non-stop squabbling. A policy that isn't reasonably enforceable isn't worth doing.

(* - Possible exception for critters like fish or small caged birds that are kept indoors. Large parrots can be louder than barking dogs, so noise is another consideration.)
DonnaR5
(Virginia)

Posts:138


10/05/2021 10:39 AM  
I may have missed it, but did the person asking the original question say whether he was a condo or a community of houses? Unless you're a condo, the whole thing is a bad idea. Let it go.
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