Not only can homeowners associations impose pet restrictions but almost 100% of them do.
Here’s the thing: the job of a homeowners associations or HOA is to look at the big picture and provide a safe and tidy environment for everyone despite one particular resident’s taste and idiosyncrasies. And that, of course, runs through pets. They impose restrictions like the need for use of a leash within the building’s or gated communities premises so that people that are afraid of dogs can feel protected. They apply fines to people who don’t clean up after their dogs.
And so on and so forth.
Some homeowners associations (HOA) go even further and limit the size (by establishing a weight limit) of the pet allowed or even ban it altogether. Yes, they’re allowed to say “no pets allowed” - which can be a problem for people that feel the need for a guard dog. What they cannot do, however, is keep any resident from having your pet if the pet in question is either a service-pet or an emotional-support pet. That would mean they need the pet with them and denying their living because of it would violate the Fair Housing Act put in motion by the Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD.
Do some homeowners associations impose pet restrictions that are a bit too over the top? Yes. Quite frequently, sadly. Makes you wonder how much power does an HOA have, right? With those cases of perceived power abuse, most of the times the home buyer has a hard time winning the cases in court because pet restrictions usually are described in the contract. Aside from restrictions, homeowners associations (HOA) can also charge special fees because of the pet. It’s pretty common when renting. They charge you a sort of “pet rent” monthly for the damage and disturbance a dog naturally does. Landlords also typically charge a one-time “pet fee” so that, once you’re gone, the changing of the carpet and additional cleaning because of pets is already taken care of. Again, if it’s a service-pet or an emotional support pets, the tenant/home buyer has the right to ask to waive both the fee and the pet rent since the presence of the pet is not a want but a need.
So, to sum up: can homeowners associations impose pet restriction? Yes, and it’s pretty rare when they don’t. The best time to fight them is when you’re negotiating to join that homeowner's association but there are reasonable and unreasonable restrictions, so, there are cases where you can try to fight it over in court. Before deciding to bring a dog into your home, check your homeowner's association rules and contact a real estate lawyer to know if your specific case is worth fighting for or not.