It's the duty of a homeowner's association to keep all of their residents, people and pets included, safe and happy. If you're a pet owner and are buying a home in an association, you'll need to inquire about their pet policies. While condominium and townhouse associations are more likely to place regulations on pets due to the shared space, some associations for single-family homes also place requirements on pet ownership. To help you ensure that the prospective homeowner's association will be a good fit for you, here are the questions you need to ask them about their pet policies.
1. How Many Pets Are Allowed?
The most common regulation regarding pets in a homeowner's association is a limit on the number of animals you can own. The HOA may limit animals of each type in addition to placing a maximum limit on the number of animals you can own. For example, you may be limited to a maximum of two dogs and a maximum of four animals regardless of type. If you own exotic animals as pets, you also need to ensure that the homeowner's association will allow them – some will ban exotic animals outright.
2. Do You Have Any Weight or Breed Restrictions on Dogs?
If you own a dog, you'll need to ask the HOA if they have any regulations in place on weight or breed. Some associations disallow larger breeds or breeds that are assumed to be more aggressive due to safety concerns. It's rare for associations to place restrictions on other types of animals, but you can ask just to be sure.
3. What Are Your Rules and Regulations Regarding Fencing?
Many homeowner's associations for single-family homes regulate the types of fencing you are allowed to install on your property, which can present a problem if you want to let your pets out into your backyard. The HOA may put a limit on the maximum height of a fence, which can be an issue if you own a large dog – certain breeds can easily leap over short fences. They may also require you to install a certain type of fence such as a picket fence in order to match other homes in the neighborhood. Your pets may be able to easily fit through the large slats of a picket fence, rendering your backyard an unsafe place for them. If you want to let your pets into your backyard without worry, make sure you will be allowed to construct a suitable fence for them.
4. Does a Temporary Exception for Pet Sitting Exist?
If you're already at the limit for the number of pets you can own, and one of your friends wants you to watch their pets while they're away on vacation, would you be able to take them in temporarily? Some associations allow exemptions that allow you to have more than the maximum number of pets in your home for a limited amount of time.
5. What Pet Safety Regulations Are in Place?
Some homeowner's associations enforce regulations on pet owners that improve the safety of the neighborhood or condominium complex. You may be required to keep your dog on a leash at all times, keep your cats indoors and to always clean up after your pet goes to the bathroom outside. You may be required to provide proof of registration and vaccination when you apply to live in the association. These types of regulations are designed to prevent animal bites or the spread of disease, and they serve to keep both you and your pets safe.
Thankfully, homeowner's associations typically have generous regulations on pet ownership. If you're a pet owner looking to buy a home, keep these questions in mind when you contact homeowner's associations. You can also ask a real estate agent who is familiar with the area for some extra help – he or she will be able to point you in the direction of homes with associations that allow you to bring all of your pets with you to your new home.