Posted on: 27 January 2017
One of the most difficult tasks a community manager often has is in dealing not with residents but with their pets. A great deal of the complaints and issues that arise throughout a home or condo association has to do with the animals in these communities. And unfortunately, there are many mistakes that could be made that could end up to be either costly or simply a headache later on.
Confusing Service Animals With Emotional Support Animals
Service Animals (SAs) and Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are two completely different things. In most areas, Service Animals have protection under the ADA whereas Emotional Support Animals do not. But there are a few states and cities that have specific provisions for an ESA, even if these provisions aren't necessarily the same as the ADA. Either way, no decisions should be made regarding a service animal or an emotional support animal before contacting legal counsel.
Trying to Evict Existing Pets in an Association
Evicting existing pets is a challenge... and it may not hold up in court unless you've done a lot of legwork. In general, pets can be evicted if they are considered to be a potential danger -- but when a pet is a potential danger, the proper authorities such as the police and animal control should be contacted. If the pet truly is a danger, then this will be handled by the authorities.
Selectively Enforcing Pet Policies
Selectively enforcing policies isn't just a fertile ground for a discrimination lawsuit, but it also can be problematic if an owner takes the community association to court. Pet policies -- as with all HOA policies -- have to be rigidly enforced. If a community bans pets, it cannot decide to ask some owners to remove their pets while allowing other owners to knowingly still have pets. The owners can then argue that the community, in fact, did allow pets and must continue to do so.
Refraining From Action
With all of the above in mind, a community manager may be hesitant to get involved with pet disputes simply because it is a loaded topic. But community managers actually do need to act when they believe that a pet could potentially be harmful. If a community manager is aware of a pet that could be dangerous, they themselves could be considered to be negligent if the worst occurs.
Sometimes it can be worth it to request that a delicate situation be run past a lawyer. When it comes to housing issues, the rules and regulations of each city and state can be very different regarding pets. But as pets are now becoming even more popular even in condominiums, community managers need to be aware of the risks. Professional community managers can keep everyone and everything safe by working closely with residents and, if necessary, lawyers.Share