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Homeowners’ associations (HOAs) can provide many benefits. Homeowners that choose to move into a planned neighborhood or condominium complex that is part of an HOA often enjoy various community benefits, including groomed landscaping, access to golf courses, pools, tennis courts, and other common areas.

Joining an HOA also comes with certain rules. These rules can include expectations for maintenance on the exterior of your home and property as well as rules around noise and visitors. Some also have rules about pets.

Is it legal for HOAs to have rules about pet ownership?

In general, it is legal for an HOA to have rules about whether or not homeowners who live in the community can have pets. Communities who choose to allow for pets can have parameters around the number and type of pets.

HOAs generally cannot restrict the use of service animals. This is because federal housing and disability laws protect those with disabilities who need help from service animals. It is important to note that a certified disability animal is different from an emotional support animal. Emotional support animals generally do not qualify for the same protections as service animals, but these laws can change so it is important to review current regulations.

What can an HOA do if a community member violates the pet rules?

If the HOA put together a clear pet policy it can move forward with ramifications if a homeowner violates that policy. The HOA would generally start with a notification, often a letter or brief chat with a board member about the issue. If the homeowner does not fix the issue, the HOA may issue a fine and, if the situation escalates, could potentially put a lien on the property. This causes a hinderance to the title and makes it difficult to sell or transfer the property until the homeowner settles the matter and the lienholder, in this case the HOA, removes the lien.