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Subject: Cats littering in homeowners pots/plants
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CathyB7
(Colorado)

Posts:7


11/19/2021 1:43 PM  
Small condo association with total of 96 units. City ordinance states that cats need to be kept within HO yard or on a leash. One HO keeps her door open and her cat roams about the neighborhood leaving feces and urine in neighbors personal planters. The violated HO has said that it cost her between $300 and $500 to replace soil and pots. Thus, a complaint was filed by the homeowner. We have sent a violation letter and a subsequent fine was issued due to non-compliance. This was about 7 months ago. Today, the board and received another complaint from the affected HO requesting the board send a demand letter to the 'cat owner' for the replacement cost of her soil and planters as she doesn't feel the association is doing anything and she has to replace everything once again.

She doesn't have any pictures of the cat actually destroying her plants or planter, however, it is the only cat that runs the neighborhood so it is assumed. My thought is that the City or animal control should be notified by the affected homeowner and a complaint should be filed with them directly. I'm at a loss as to what the association can do other then keep fining for the offense when, yes - we have pictures of the cat running in the field across the street - but nothing showing the disruption to other HO's property. Our covenants state: ".... An Owner's right to keep household pets is coupled with the responsibility to pay for any damage caused by such pets, as well as all costs incurred by the Association as a result of such pets, and any such costs and damages shall be subject to all of the Association's rights with respect to the collection and enforcement of Assessments as provided in Article 4 of this Declaration (Assessments)".

With this, I believe we can charge the HO for damages, but there is not proof. Not sure how to handle. Thoughts on this are appreciated.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4284


11/19/2021 3:20 PM  
Although you're probably right about this cat, proof is needed if the city (or HOA) is going to take tougher action. Has the homeowner looked into getting a motion detected camera that could capture this cat? Those can be date and time stamped and then used as evidence if the lady needs to pursue this in small claims court.

Unless other homeowners are complaining about the same cat, I don't know if this is something the HOA should get involved in, but you've set the precedent by sending the letter and issued the fine. If the lady didn't oay, you can go after her for that, but the rest of this will have to be squashed between these neighbors.

In the meantime, the association can send a reminder to homeowners about the rule - publish something in the newsletter or on the website. You do t have to name names -This homeowner (the offender) will know she's the one being rude. This should be accompanied by tips from the local animal control of Humane society on nonlethal ways to deter the cat(s).

I myself have purchased a cat scar may from a gardening company - it's a plastic bag with spikes and you can cut it to fit around your plants. The spikes will discourage the cats from digging up and pooping in the plants. You can use it in raised garden beds or the ground as well.

Chicken wire can also be a deterrent, as can several boxes of plastic forks. Stick those up around the p!ants, find a up and you get the same effect. Add some periodic sprinkling of ground hot pepper will also work, although you'll have to refresh it after the rain.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10584


11/19/2021 3:34 PM  
You can also get a pet repellent for your yard. It comes in a bag like fertilizer spread. As long as not going to rain immediately, it tends to last a week or two. Enough to get the pet the message. It's not very expensive either. Just puts out a smell that no one likes...

Former HOA President
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1104


11/19/2021 4:00 PM  
You said yourself that you cannot prove the violation and you can only assume that the suspected cat caused the damage. It is not the HOA's responsibility to enforce the law. I would have never issued a fine or gotten involved unless you had real evidence of a violation of the covenants.



AugustinD


Posts:1901


11/19/2021 4:19 PM  
Posted By CathyB7 on 11/19/2021 1:43 PM

With this, I believe we can charge the HO for damages, but there is not proof. Not sure how to handle. Thoughts on this are appreciated.
I do not think the HOA is legally justified for billing for damages to another owner's property. If the damage were to HOA property (owned by all members), and if the HOA has proof of who did the damage to the HOA-owned property then you might be able to bill the owner and be on firm legal ground in doing so. The covenants usually speak to damage to HOA owned property and whether the HOA can assess the owner who did the damage.
BillD16
(Texas)

Posts:73


11/19/2021 5:37 PM  
I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that there are two issues here:

1. The cat owner (HO1) allowing their cat run free, which would be a violation.

2. The alleged damage done to the other homeowner’s (HO2) soil and plants would (I think) be an issue for small claims court. Ie, HO2 files suit against HO1. I don’t think the HOA should be involved in attempting to collect damages.

Bill
BillD16
(Texas)

Posts:73


11/19/2021 5:37 PM  
I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that there are two issues here:

1. The cat owner (HO1) allowing their cat run free, which would be a violation.

2. The alleged damage done to the other homeowner’s (HO2) soil and plants would (I think) be an issue for small claims court. Ie, HO2 files suit against HO1. I don’t think the HOA should be involved in attempting to collect damages.

Bill
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8720


11/19/2021 6:21 PM  
Your citation of your covenants, Cathy are helpful. But it's hard to tell if they refer to damage to the common areas, which we'd expect. It's simply not clear that owners can be disciplined for a cat's damage to another's private property.


".... An Owner's right to keep household pets is coupled with the responsibility to pay for any damage caused by such pets, as well as all costs incurred by the Association as a result of such pets, and any such costs and damages shall be subject to all of the Association's rights with respect to the collection and enforcement of Assessments as provided in Article 4 of this Declaration
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1594


11/19/2021 6:48 PM  
In another recent thread, a Committee member happened to show a picture of another member's dog, walking, not pooping in the common area, during a presentation, and the posters here wanted that Committee member, 10 removed from their committee, 2) burn them, 3) issue a first and final warning before removing him, 4) off with their heads, 5) severely censure this committee member or remove him from the committee with a board motion, 6) committee member should be censured or removed.

Here, a complaint was made about a cat pooping in a owner's yard, not the association common area, causing ??? $300-$500 damage. Without proof and/or due process, the board send a letter and a subsequent fine. The fine was for "the cat running in the field across the street". Where is the outcry for removing or censuring those board members?
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2588


11/20/2021 5:22 AM  
The OP said she lives in a condo community, so the cat will be on common area - it is association business at this point.

CathyB7, do your CC&Rs have a pet restriction in them, and what does it say? It's very common to require that solid pet waste be cleaned up - if your CC&Rs say something similar, this is a violation that can be pursued. There may also be language in the CC&Rs that holds homeowners accountable for damage done to association property. As far as damage to another owner's personal property goes, that's an owner-to-owner dispute and the association should stay out of it unless the CC&Rs say something about situations like this (unlikely).

As with anything like this, local municipalities often can impose larger penalties on the bad actors than community associations can, so are more able to get people's attention.

The important part of all this, as others have said, is to get proof: photos, videos and the like. Then the owner of the damaged property can make a complaint and the association can go through their regular process of dealing with violations.

MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1594


11/20/2021 8:55 AM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 11/20/2021 5:22 AM
The OP said she lives in a condo community, so the cat will be on common area - it is association business at this point.

CathyB7, do your CC&Rs have a pet restriction in them, and what does it say? It's very common to require that solid pet waste be cleaned up - if your CC&Rs say something similar, this is a violation that can be pursued. There may also be language in the CC&Rs that holds homeowners accountable for damage done to association property. As far as damage to another owner's personal property goes, that's an owner-to-owner dispute and the association should stay out of it unless the CC&Rs say something about situations like this (unlikely).

As with anything like this, local municipalities often can impose larger penalties on the bad actors than community associations can, so are more able to get people's attention.

The important part of all this, as others have said, is to get proof: photos, videos and the like. Then the owner of the damaged property can make a complaint and the association can go through their regular process of dealing with violations.




I believe the topic was "Cats littering in homeowners pots/plants", not on association property.
PatJ1
(North Carolina)

Posts:290


11/20/2021 9:59 AM  
If you are in F.C., the Muni-Code is below.

The damaged HO should call the appropriate City Dept. for enforcement.

If the HOA is permitted, they may also be able to bring violations against the cat owner for violating City Code and causing damage to another HO’s property.

Monetary resolution between the HO’s should be a neighbor to neighbor issue as your post only mentions the damages to private property. The HOA doesn’t demand monies from one HO to pay for another HO’s damages. If a HO damaged another owner’s fence, car, or other personal property that is a neighbor to neighbor issue just like this one. Damages to HOA property are a different matter.


Division 5 - Control of Animals

• Sec. 4-93. - Animals at large prohibited.
(a)
All pet animals, except birds, shall be kept under restraint. It shall be unlawful for the owner or keeper of any pet animal, except birds, to permit such animal to be at large in the City, with or without the owner or keeper's knowledge.
Sec. 4-95. - Public nuisance prohibited.
It shall be unlawful for any owner or keeper to fail to exercise proper care and control of his or her animal to prevent it from becoming a public nuisance. For the purposes of this Section, a public nuisance includes an animal that is not a dangerous or vicious animal but is otherwise a safety or health hazard, damages or destroys the property of another or creates offensive odors which materially interfere with or disrupt another person in the conduct of lawful activities at such person's home.


Board members are volunteers. Many have no idea what they're doing. Educate them. Don't beat them up.
PatJ1
(North Carolina)

Posts:290


11/20/2021 10:09 AM  
Posted By PatJ1 on 11/20/2021 9:59 AM
If you are in F.C., the Muni-Code is below.

The damaged HO should call the appropriate City Dept. for enforcement.

If the HOA is permitted, they may also be able to bring violations against the cat owner for violating City Code and causing damage to another HO’s property.

Monetary resolution between the HO’s should be a neighbor to neighbor issue as your post only mentions the damages to private property. The HOA doesn’t demand monies from one HO to pay for another HO’s damages. If a HO damaged another owner’s fence, car, or other personal property that is a neighbor to neighbor issue just like this one. Damages to HOA property are a different matter.


Division 5 - Control of Animals

• Sec. 4-93. - Animals at large prohibited.
(a)
All pet animals, except birds, shall be kept under restraint. It shall be unlawful for the owner or keeper of any pet animal, except birds, to permit such animal to be at large in the City, with or without the owner or keeper's knowledge.
Sec. 4-95. - Public nuisance prohibited.
It shall be unlawful for any owner or keeper to fail to exercise proper care and control of his or her animal to prevent it from becoming a public nuisance. For the purposes of this Section, a public nuisance includes an animal that is not a dangerous or vicious animal but is otherwise a safety or health hazard, damages or destroys the property of another or creates offensive odors which materially interfere with or disrupt another person in the conduct of lawful activities at such person's home.





Found this article if AC picks up the cat:

At-large cats in XXXX XXXXXXX city limits are often called in and picked up by animal control, then brought to the Lxxxxxx Humane Society and placed on a stray hold for five days, Starr said.

Retrieving a lost pet from the humane society comes at a price, which is set by the city and county. Reclaiming a lost pet from the humane society will cost the owner $40 if the animal is wearing its licensing and rabies tag and $60 if not. There's also a $15 per day boarding fee to cover the animal's food and care.

Board members are volunteers. Many have no idea what they're doing. Educate them. Don't beat them up.
CathyB7
(Colorado)

Posts:7


11/20/2021 12:13 PM  
I really appreciate all the responses which do help quite a bit. HO1 (cat owner) was issued a violation which was remedied. We have not had any complaints from other homeowners. We did send a note to HO2 stating that she should contact the City and she responded that the City said because we were an HOA she needed to go through us. However, it truly depends on what was said for the City to have this response.

HO2 said she has seen this herself as well as 4 other homeowners so that should be enough proof. The Board does agree that the HOA is not responsible for her personal property and there is no evidence or complainant about any issues of this nature within the common areas.

I will put your thoughts together and compile a response - Again, thank you all so much for the direction.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8720


11/20/2021 12:58 PM  
So, CathyB, was the violation to HO1 for permitting her cat to roam the common areas? Or something else?

HO2 says at least 4 other residents have seen this cat themselves (doing what?). Then, photos should be easy. Ditto, a letter form the city saying the HOA is responsible for this cat. This just doesn't sound quite right, but....?
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