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Can your HOA impose a ban on residents owning pets?

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2023 | Homeowners' Associations

If you serve on the board of your local homeowner’s association (HOA), your primary objective is likely to preserve property values and minimize how much it costs to maintain community amenities. Minimizing elements that will make the community unattractive or increase maintenance expenses is a common practice.

HOA boards adopt numerous rules that affect how people use their properties. In some communities, there are total bands or strict limits on the possession of companion animals or pets. Can your HOA board potentially prohibit animals from community homes?

Banning or limiting animals is common practice

Animals can trigger allergies, damage community spaces and engage in violence toward humans. They are unpredictable and a frequent source of dispute between neighbors. HOA boards can prevent the headaches potentially caused by problematic animal ownership by simply prohibiting pets within the community.

This prevents pet waste from accumulating in public spaces and annoyances like animal odors and noises from affecting other people’s enjoyment of their homes. Some communities choose to limit animals, possibly by allowing one pet or imposing a weight limit.

Can people get around an animal ban?

There is a way for property owners and prospective residents to avoid complying with an HOA ban on companion animals. Technically, any housing community has to accommodate service animals trained to perform medical functions on behalf of a person.

New York also recognizes the need for emotional support animals, which is a program that is arguably easier to abuse than the service animal exemption. Unlike service animals, which are subject to rigorous training and recertification tests, emotional support animals may not have any formal training. They could just have a certificate signed by a fly-by-night physician someone met on the internet.

Unfortunately, some people will abuse New York rules allowing for the use of emotional support animals by claiming they need an emotional support animal when what they really have is a basic pet. Those who serve on an HOA board need to understand what rules they can impose on the community that they serve and also win enforcement could lead to financial and legal issues for the HOA.

Learning more about New York real property laws will benefit those trying to make their Community better through HOA board service.