Your HOA probably has some pet restrictions in place. But what can you really expect?

Your HOA has rules for a reason. They protect you. They protect the organization. They make your HOA a more beautiful, pleasant place to live — at least that’s the idea. This legal framework of regulations isn’t meant to be overly restrictive. They aren’t there to make you feel like you can’t hang a wreath or listen to music without getting a nasty note.

Actually, there are many obvious perks of having certain restrictions in place:

  • No ugly yards or knee-high weeds
  • Well-maintained roads
  • Clean common areas
  • No junk cars or trailers on the street
  • Quieter nights with fewer disruptions
  • Visually pleasing and harmonious neighborhoods

Most people expect and appreciate these types of restrictions when they move into a community. The rules make for an arguably cleaner, safer, more beautiful place to live. In fact, national studies have shown that well-observed HOA by-laws actually result in better property values — and isn’t that what everyone wants?

But with animals, things can get messy. Literally.

Many people feel strongly about their pets. They provide companionship, unconditional love, and endless comic relief. But living in close quarters, they can present their own set of issues. A lot of people actually move into an HOA to avoid dealing with neighborhood pets.

Why would anyone want to actively avoid Fido or Fluffy?

  • Incessant barking
  • Destructive strays
  • Unpleasant odors
  • Messy – and stinky – land mines

People without pets don’t want to have to watch their step. They don’t want to listen to their neighbor’s dog whining to come inside. They don’t want to be woken up by a 2AM cat fight, or have their flower beds turned into latrines.

And really, who could blame them?

Pet restrictions not only alleviate the complications and inconveniences of an HOA full of animals, but depending on the type of community you live in, they can also protect animals from excessive confinement.

Whatever your rules, make sure they are clear.

Both pet owners and non-pet people should carefully read your pet restrictions, so make sure yours are crystal clear. It’s the only way for residents (and board members) to know what is allowed and what to expect, resulting in fewer questions and less conflict.

But what about service animals? Well, that’s a whole new ball of wax. Read about it here.

John Richards

John Richards

Partner (Guest Blogger) at Richards Law
John D. Richards III is the founding partner at Richards Law, a law firm dedicated to representing community associations and homeowner associations (HOAs) throughout the state of Utah. Mr. Richards is one of only a few attorneys in the United States to be admitted into the Community Associations Institute's (CAI) "College of Community Association Lawyers" in 2007. He is an experienced, highly regarded attorney focused on serving homeowner associations, condo associations, and owners of apartment buildings.
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