HOAs that allow pets need to set good pet policies that can balance the competing needs of those in the building. Pet rules can make a safer and healthier environment for the owner’s pets while also balancing community needs and owner freedom. How do you create just the right pet policy? Here are some tips.
Types of Animals and Aggressive Breeds
One of the first things that an HOA wants to do is typically to limit the type, size, or breed of pet that owners can have. However, when these policies are based on personal preference and not data, they can frustrate good owners and make your community less appealing. The truth is that bad owners can make big dogs and small dogs annoyances in the community. Ferrets and cats can be equally messy. It is hard to make fair policies limiting a certain kind of pet.
One of the obvious exceptions is aggressive dog breeds. It may be wise to limit your liability by banning one or more of these breeds. If your state already limits a specific dog breed, then you have more of a legal leg to stand on when limiting them. In certain states and cities, these dog breeds are banned or not allowed to be bred:
- Pit bulls
- Chow Chows
- American bulldogs
- Doberman pinschers
- Many more
Waste Removal Policies
Another way that pet ownership can affect your building is by creating a mess. Pet owners may not pick up their waste on the property, making the property less desirable. You can have waste bins for dogs outside, and you can penalize owners who leave their dog’s poop behind, but it is challenging to figure out who is violating the rules. It just takes one lazy owner to create a headache for everyone else. Instead, have pet owners all contribute to a professional clean-up that comes in once a week or more often (depending on the number of dogs in the building.) That way, you can always be confident the poop is cleaned up.
Number of Pets and Spaying/Neutering
We have all heard horror stories of the owner who has seventeen cats or who has two breeding pairs of dogs and who allow the animals to ruin their home. Setting limits on the number of pets or requiring pets to be spayed or neutered are common responses to these problem situations. While pet breeding can be done safely and cleanly without impacting property values, it may be too much of a risk for your building to allow breeding. There are also pet limits created by municipalities that you can follow in your own building. A municipality might limit residents to a maximum of seven pets of any kind, or six dogs, or five cats, or some combination that makes sense for them. You can further base these limits on the size of your units.
Don’t Forget Support Animals
There are big consequences for not empowering those with support animals to have their animals in their home and around the property. Whatever pet policies you enact, be sure that your owners’ ability to have a support animal is not impinged upon.