Noise and Pet Restrictions
In the condominium or co-op context, Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) are used to regulate the use, appearance, and maintenance of property. CC&Rs often restrict what homeowners can do on their property. For example, some covenants do not allow property owners to house pets or hang their laundry out to dry. Others may have lawn maintenance standards, common area regulations, and prohibitions on home additions and excessive noise.
Community associations may use restrictive covenants to ensure the safety of others and efficient property management. However, they may only do so in compliance with the Fair Housing Act or the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Such associations must provide reasonable accommodations where required by state law or federal laws.
A common covenant is one controlling noise made by barking dogs, particularly during certain hours of the day. Such hours are typically between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Given that local ordinances often also prohibit noise between such hours, neighbors may also simply contact police or animal control to immediately address the problem. They may then later file a complaint with a neighborhood or homeowners association (HOA) for covenant or bylaws violations.
Condo associations may create new rules through a board of directors, HOA board, and individual board members in order to impose rules upon homeowners and renters, including HOA pet rules, HOA pet restrictions, and pet ownership restrictions that affect pet owners.
CC&Rs that pertain to pet policies may address pet limits, the number of pets, type of pets, and even dog breeds that residents may keep on their property. For example, pit bulls may be prohibited due to their being known for violence. It is very important that prospective residents learn about any such covenants prior to purchasing the property or bringing animals or new pets onto the property. Property associations do have the right to take legal action and require removal of pets in violation of covenants. However, this generally can only be done after proper notice and hearing, followed by judgment in a court of law to enforce the covenant. Members of homeowners' associations do not have authority to enter the property of another and remove pets.
A request for a variance is a request for permission not to follow the usual requirements of a covenant under special circumstances. Variances are usually granted where enforcement of the covenant would cause undue or unfair hardship on the individual pursuing the variance. Examples include service animals or emotional support animals that exceed the size, weight limit, breed, or limit on number as is indicated in a covenant. A variance in such a situation allows for accommodating a person's disability or emotional needs.
If you are unsure how to interpret your HOA's rules or covenants, you should consult with a real estate attorney in your local area.
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