Is it just us, or does it seem like homeowners associations around the country have suddenly developed a severe dislike for animals?
From Hawaii to Texas to Missouri, countless homeowners are battling it out with their HOAs over the right to house, feed, or take care of an animal.
We understand that HOAs have a role and duty to uphold. It’s the job of the HOA to ensure that the community looks its best and functions smoothly.
And the rules are typically in place to ensure the neighborhood doesn’t go to the dogs, figuratively and literally.
But at what point do an HOA’s covenants, conditions, and restrictions (commonly called CC&Rs) go too far and start moving into the “ruining your life” territory?
Unfortunately, sometimes the community’s CC&Rs are too restrictive for some homeowners—and their animals.
If it looks like a duck…
One Texas couple learned the hard way that when the HOA tells you to stop doing something, it means it.
George and Kathleen Rowe ultimately decided to sell their house in Cypress, TX, after their HOA sued them and threatened to foreclose on their home for feeding the ducks that waddle around their subdivision.
Kathleen said providing snacks to her feathered friends was not only therapeutic but also the right thing to do. According to Kathleen, the ducks were once pets and then released into the wild.
The Rowes’ attorney, Richard Weaver, told the Washington Post, “I’m a board-certified real estate attorney, and this lawsuit is truly the silliest lawsuit I’ve ever seen in my practice.”
Piggy in the middle
Poor Arnold not only has to contend with being on a diet, but she is also dealing with an HOA that wants her kicked out of her home.
Arnold happens to be a female potbellied pig, and she has found herself smack dab in the middle of a legal battle with not one, but two dueling lawsuits, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The Country Brook HOA is suing Richard and Katherine Price for keeping a pig in their home in Clearcreek Township, near Springboro, OH.
And the Prices filed their own federal civil rights lawsuit. They claim the HOAs is discriminating against Katherine’s heritage because Arnold is a traditional Vietnamese pet—and an essential part of her home country’s heritage and culture.
The question remains: Who gets to decide whether a pig is a pet or not?
Pamela Cooper is facing a $100 daily fine because her tenants feed two wild cats at her condo complex. So far she’s racked up a whopping $26,000 in fines!
The kicker? Cooper doesn’t care—and she has no intention of depriving Bob and Carol (the cats) of their daily feedings.
The felines have lived at the Kona, HI, condo complex longer than Cooper has owned her condo.
“They’re community cats,” Cooper told Big Island Now. “They don’t bother a soul.”
The HOA told Cooper that feeding the cats was against the rules. However, she says, there is precedence since the community fed a cat named Uncle until he passed on to that great scratching post in the sky.
Also, Cooper points to the Hawaii statute that says withholding food or water from animals in a place they consider home is animal cruelty and a second-degree misdemeanor. Meow!
The pecking order
When is a hen considered a pet and not a farmyard animal? Well, one Roswell, GA, couple is learning that may not be an easy question to answer.
Homeowners Jianchu Jia and Yueyi Yu have lived in the Willow Springs subdivision for 15 years and were recently ordered to remove their two chickens, Xioa Hua and Xiao Hei.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Willow Springs HOA told the couple that they could not keep the chickens as pets because they were concerned about avian flu and the chickens attracting coyotes to the neighborhood.
The couple’s attorney, Joe Rosen, says the issue stems from cultural differences since the family still observes many of the customs of their home country.
Every dog has its day
You can mark this story as a victory for animals! A Raleigh, NC, man won in court against the HOA that had ordered him to remove the doggy treat station outside his home.
The HOA told Chuck Pringle to get rid of the snack stop because it was in the city’s right-of-way, which the community’s CC&Rs govern.
Pringle disagreed, refused to remove the treat station, and decided to take the HOA to court for overreaching.
“We are pleased with the court’s decision, which makes clear that the HOA exceeded its authority under the covenants,” Pringle’s attorney, Colin McGrath, told WRAL.
Love animals? Here’s how to tactfully deal with an Do HOAs
Ultimately, it is up to the homeowners to know what they’re getting into when it comes to their HOA. And so, the best way to deal with an HOA is to make sure they are a good fit in the first place.
“HOAs are tough,” says Jen Schaben, real estate agent with Stauss Realty in Okoboji, IA. “If an HOA doesn’t allow dogs and you have a dog, I suggest you find a different place.”
But if you end up in a sticky situation with your HOA, Schaben says there are things you can do to help the situation:
- Ensure you know and understand the CC&Rs.
- Get everything in writing, including your requests and the HOA’s response.
- Be pleasant since you have to see these people daily.
- If you think a rule should be changed, get your neighbors to join you in a petition.
- Don’t stop paying your dues.
And remember, the HOA is a disparate group of people brought together solely because they all chose the same community in which to live.
“It’s a collection of many different personalities and drives all rolled up into one HOA,” says Ken Sisson, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Studio City, CA. “Diplomacy is important here.”