Homeowner associations can regulate size, type of pets

Q: I am a board member in my community. In our covenants, conditions and restrictions, there is a section stating that owners cannot have dogs over 25 pounds and renters are only allowed birds or fish. Past boards have not enforced these provisions and we are aware that when you are enforcing rules you must enforce all rules.

Recently, we have gone to the homeowners to vote to delete the above provisions in our CC&Rs because the past boards have not enforced them and we believe that it will be very difficult to enforce.

We have a renter who owns two pit bulls. Several residents are terrified of the dogs because of the pit bull’s history of aggression. The dogs have also been seen being walked by small children who would have no control over the dogs.

On my insurance policy, there is attached a liability exclusion with a list of vicious dogs and dogs with a prior bite history, which excludes coverage through my insurance if I were to own one of the six dogs listed including pit bulls and pit bull mixes. There is a concern on my part that this renter not carrying the proper insurance coverage if one of the pit bulls were to bite or attack.

The homeowners still have to vote as to whether or not to delete the above provisions. If the homeowners choose not to delete this provision, the board will enforce it. However, we will probably have to grandfather the current dogs, and this does not solve the problem of the two pit bulls and other dogs over 25 pounds in our community. We are working with our management company and attorney, but what else should we do?

A: Assuming that the covenants are not changed, your association needs to enforce the regulations. It may take some time to resolve the past issues of non-enforcement but the issues can be resolved.

First, you do not need to grandfather any owner because the information as to the weight restrictions was public information found in your covenants.

You need to begin to identify owners with pets that are over the weight limit and identify renters with pets.

You will have to send letters to everyone on the community informing owners and renters what are the covenants that regulate pet ownership. You will have to inform owners with tenants that they cannot renew their tenant’s lease agreement if they any pets other than fish or birds.

Now, because you have not enforced these regulations, a compromise situation can be considered whereby the owner and or tenant provides a pet policy that names the association as an additional insured in case the dog, for example, attacks a resident or guest.

In the letter, state that any existing tenant vacating from the property, the association will not approve the renting of his or her unit if the new tenant has any unauthorized pets.

Also state that upon the death of the pet (either the owner’s over weight animal or unauthorized tenant’s pet), the owner and/or the tenant must be informed that they must abide by the covenants.

If anyone should violate whatever covenant or interim policies you approve, the owner would be subject to fines.

Harmony Homes is locally owned and operated by a builder with more than 20 years experience. All new homes come with Harmony Homes’ warranty that covers all components for two years and the home’s structure for 10 years.

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