Among the many impacts the coronavirus pandemic has had on daily lives, two trends that have become part of the “new normal” include pet adoption and remote work.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), nearly one in five American households “acquired a cat or dog since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.”

When it relates to working from home, organizations assessed in-office staffing to address public health policies and social distancing. As lockdowns have been lifted and employers are reevaluating their business needs, the shift to remote and hybrid work has accelerated.

How do these two specific and significant lifestyle changes impact condominium, homeowner (HOA), and townhome community associations?

Now that more condo and single-family homeowners have become remote workers and pet owners compared to pre-pandemic levels, property managers and board members should be aware how to legally address pet polices, emotional assistance animals, and service animals.

 

Pet Policies

Community association rules and enforcement are detailed in the association’s governing documents. These documents include:

  • Bylaws
  • Declaration and/or Covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs)
  • Rules and regulations

The governing documents will also outline any rules related to pet ownership within the community. While every association is unique, below are a few common issues addressed in a pet policy:

  • Registering pets with the association
  • Limits on the number of pets
  • Leash requirements
  • Restrictions on types or sizes of animals

 

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) and Service Animals

As a growing number of association residents become pet owners, it’s likely that some may have an emotional support animal or a service animal.

There are various federal laws, state laws, and local ordinances related to support and service animals. For example:

  • Support animals within associations or rental properties are governed by the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
  • In some states, emotional support animals are seen as an exception to any pet restrictions imposed by an association’s governing documents.
  • There may be local and/or state ordinances restricting farm animals from being kept within city limits.

Accommodation requests for assistance animals can involve a review of medical documentation involving a disability in conjunction with review of the association’s governing documents. Due to the sensitivity and potentially complex legal nature of these requests, boards of directors should consult with the association’s attorney to ensure that the Board is in compliance with applicable laws in granting or denying such requests.

In addition, the association’s legal counsel should be involved in:

  • Reviewing the association’s governing documents to determine whether they comply with applicable laws and,
  • Advising as to whether any amendments, changes, or revisions to any applicable governing documents may be necessary.

 

Legal Resource

Do not hesitate to contact our law firm If your community has legal concerns regarding pet policies, emotional support animals, and/or service animals. Please call 855-537-0500 or visit www.ksnlaw.com.

 

Since 1983, KSN has been a legal resource for condominium, homeowner, and townhome associations. Additionally, we represent clients in real estate transactions, collections, landlord/tenant issues, and property tax appeals. We have four office locations, serving hundreds of clients and thousands of communities throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Our attorneys are also licensed in Arizona, Florida, and Missouri.

 

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