WBTV News in Charlotte, North Carolina reported yesterday on an ugly dispute in a homeowners’ association (“HOA”) over removing a pot-bellied pig from the community. The feud escalated to a point where the owner of the pig posted an entry on her Facebook page with a picture of her pig and “an image of a gun with a backward facing barrel with words “Made especially for HOA Board Members,” according to a report last week from deputies.” 

While there is no doubt this dispute has gotten out of hand, it does bring to light the important issue of pet provisions in governing documents. Most declarations of covenants, conditions and restrictions specifically address the ability of residents to keep dogs and cats in the association. However, it’s not all that uncommon to see provisions which reference the ability of owners to have “household pets.” 

If the declaration for your association contains such a provision, it’s important to determine whether “household pets” are specifically defined in the declaration. If they are, it’s prudent to remind residents of this provision in a newsletter. If household pets are not specifically defined, the board of your association should consider adopting a resolution interpreting the definition by listing what animals fall within this category. Since pets are such a passionate issue for many of us “bunny-huggers,” it’s not a bad idea for boards to consider building consensus with owners to determine what types of household pets they believe should be permitted in the association. Finally, when adopting such a resolution, make sure you comply with your association’s SB 100 Policy Regarding the Adoption and Amendment of Policies and Rules.