Pets are a beloved part of many families, and owning one can come with a lot of benefits. However, it is still important for homeowners associations to put necessary rules and expectations in place to keep things from getting out of control. While one person may not see anything wrong with having five dogs or an eight-foot snake, another may find this problematic. Some of the biggest concerns from HOA members are typically noise, safety, and waste cleanup.
There is a fine balance between reasonable disturbances vs. a nuisance. The HOA board must take concerns seriously and think carefully about what rules are put in place and how they are enforced.
Support Pet Owners
One way that the HOA can help to reduce problems is to support homeowners’ rights to have pets by installing pet waste stations in commonly used areas to make it easier for owners to clean up after animals. Many stations are equipped with plastic bags and a trash can. Talk to pet owners and find out where it would be most convenient to have these stations placed based on where they frequently walk their dogs.
Creating a dog park can also be beneficial because it gives owners a confined space to let their dog run, play, and burn off energy without worrying about it running into a neighbor’s yard or into the street. Some communities even build separate spaces for large and small dogs.
Set Clear Expectations
Even if having pets is supported by the HOA, there should still be clear rules in place. This could include limits on the number or type of pets, their breed, or how much they weigh. The HOA may require all dogs to be on a leash when outdoors, even if they are well-trained or not aggressive. There may also be guidelines on what constitutes excessive barking or noise, or during what hours it becomes a nuisance.
Take the time to explain to homeowners the reasoning behind these rules and why they were put in place. They should also understand how expectations will be enforced and what the process is for handling violations. Prospective buyers should be made aware of pet policies before purchasing a home in the HOA community.
Oftentimes pet owners are not intentionally breaking the rules. They may not realize that they are in violation, or may be unsure of how to correct problems. Talk to owners and explain what the issue is, and why it is an issue. Then work together to come up with a solution. If they are new to the area, they may not realize there is a dog park onsite or nearby. Recommend local organizations that offer training. If the problem is just between neighbors, encourage them to try to work things out on their own and come up with a mutually agreeable solution. Immediately jumping to fines or penalties is not always the best course of action.
Members and pets can live together peaceably in the HOA community if everyone works together and does their part. A community manager can help communicate expectations and enforce rules when it comes to pet ownership and responsibility. They can also support the board in making fair, enforceable policies by understanding local, state, and federal regulations. Contact Kuester today to learn more about how we can assist your HOA with common issues.