6 Reasons To Volunteer At Your Local Animal Shelter 5 Rules For Solving Pet Problems in Your Homeowners Association – A Guide For HOA Board Members

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5 Rules For Solving Pet Problems in Your Homeowners Association – A Guide For HOA Board Members

The Joneses have a very friendly golden retriever named Sparky. But they let him out of the common areas of his home team and the mutt makes a deal with the neighbors and jumps on them to say hello. Neighbors like the Joneses and Sparky, but they have asked you to remind them that they must follow HOA rules and put their dog down.

Or maybe if there is an apartment complex that allows cats, but residents have complained that Mike has 13 of the feline creatures in unit 249, and the smell is getting noticed.

If your local association allows pets – but with restrictions – you need a plan for dealing with critters. Here are five rules for addressing disrespectful landlords in your landlord’s association.

1) Enforce the rules. Although you may love pets yourself, people have bought into your HOA in part because they like the rules that govern the owners’ behavior. It is your job – and fiduciary duty – as a board member of your homeowners association to enforce those rules. It doesn’t matter that Sparky is a friend. If the Joneses break the rules – and their neighbors’ ability to live peacefully is diminished – put on your enforcement hat and do your job as an HOA board member.

2) Record the problem. If the Wilson family lets their dogs out at 6 a.m. every day and allows them to bark until they go to work at 7:30 a.m., start taking notes. Create a log of events and document them in as many ways as possible. Take pictures, record the noise, and ask non-aggressive neighbors in your HOA to write a complaint. Only when you have strong evidence that there is a problem should you approach the owners about your decision.

3) Ask for compliance. Before you come down like an anvil on the owners in your HOA who are oblivious to the trouble their pets are causing, try honey first. Either in person or through a letter, explain the problem and ask for it to be fixed. It is difficult for owners to get angry or dismissive if you stand in front of them, so a personal discussion can resolve the issue quickly. If you take that route, however, document the discussion immediately afterward. Be specific in explaining the problem and the actions you need owners to take, don’t threaten them with fines or other punitive action. There may be time for threats, but at this stage, they may be resisted.

4) Follow up. After you have let the owner know that there have been complaints and asked for a resolution, check again to evaluate if the problem has been corrected. If not, get tough. Now is the time to remind owners of the rules and penalties for breaking them. Review your administrative documents to make sure you know your options. Then write a letter explaining the problem, your efforts to solve it, and the fact that it hasn’t been fixed. Explain that if the problem is not corrected within a certain period of time, you will initiate the HOA process for dealing with non-compliant landlords. Keep that promise, and take all necessary actions to bring owners into compliance.

5) Be kind. If homeowners are in a difficult situation – perhaps they have many cats or dogs but do not want to give them up because they are afraid they will be euthanized – volunteer to help. You may think you are above and beyond the call of duty, and you are probably right. But if you don’t have the time or attitude to help owners, ask an animal lover in your homeowner’s association to take over the place. The work may require phone calls to local shelters or posting information about pets on adoption websites, but the outcome will likely be positive. If you take that approach, everyone wins.

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