Can A Homeowner’s Association Be Liable For A Dog Bite

Nicholas A. Battaglia
Reviewer Details

This post was reviewed by Nicholas A. Battaglia, Esq., an attorney licensed in New York and New Jersey.  He is owner and legal content writer for a law practice marketing firm and a realty group focusing on new construction builds in upstate New York, where he lives with his lovely wife and his counselor-at-bark Flora, a mixed breed rescue.

Can a homeowner’s association be liable for a dog bite in the neighborhood? They can be liable under certain circumstances. It is especially true when your dog bites someone in the common area of the homeowner’s community. Didn’t know this before? Read more to learn.

We may all love to live peacefully with our pets in a lively community. But there may be some communities that are not as welcoming with your pets. You see, some laws govern a certain homeowner association that may become a hindrance in your peaceful life.

So if you are planning on purchasing a unit or a house in a community owned by homeowners, you would probably need to educate yourself with the certain rules and regulations of a homeowners’ association that involves your furry friend’s stay in the area.


Rules With Pets Under Homeowner’s Bylaws

Condo or a homeowner’s bylaws, rules, and regulations are implemented to ensure its residents’ safety and enjoyable living inside the community. Therefore, these rules and regulations must be followed and respected by all. So, if you are a pet owner, what laws should you know to be responsible enough?


#1. Number of pets allowed

One of the laws that you should know about owning a pet is how many pets are you allowed to own? Of course, who would want to live in an overcrowded community? It is already crowded by people; how much more if the dogs add to this number also?

Understandably, the homeowners association would want to limit the number of pets you own, especially dogs. Things could get out of hand if you have multiple pets that may wander about the area. It will be an increase in dog traffic as well as the noise from barking.

Imagine yourself arriving from work early in the morning because you took a graveyard shift or worked overtime. When you have prepared yourself to sleep, then suddenly the dog on your right neighbor barked because of a squirrel, then the squirrel jumped over to your other neighbor’s tree, and their dogs barked.

What do you think will happen if that said community didn’t apply the rules of owning multiple dogs? Especially if other dogs saw that squirrel. What an endless strand of barking and noise. Can you sleep with all of them barking at the same time? I mean, who can? please reda here Knocked Down By A Dog: Do I Have A Case


#2. Pet breeds

There is some homeowner’s association that restricts certain breeds of dogs. And it means that some breeds are allowable to live in that said community. That detail is usually used to appease the owners of their preference. For example, a family is afraid of pit bulls, so the community forbids keeping pit bulls.

Such a situation can be considered an unfair rule that may forbid you specific breeds because of the emotional attachment. Needless to say that there are docile animals that are well-behaved that came from ill-mannered breeds. It’s not like all breeds, and pet size determines its behavior; it is upon the training the owner did.

The truth is, HOA’s decision to ban certain breeds will depend on the public opinion of related people and the legislation foreseeable by the law. All residents must abide by these limitations in breed and size since they are a part of the said community. The only exception is if the person has personal attachments to the breed is not allowed by the association.


#3. Service and emotional support animals

Dogs are considered a man’s best friend, so it is only natural for them to be service animals. Service animals are trained to support and assist certain tasks and help their disabled owners. Some of these animals also provide emotional and therapeutic support.

It is a part of some communities to allow therapeutic animals to live with their owners. Yes, it is part of the community that promotes the well-being of the residents, especially those who experience depression and mental or emotional stress.

According to the act, handicaps can be either physical or mental and limit a person’s daily activity like walking alone or exercising. Well, some people say they needed a comfort pet to be with them, and some use this excuse to get around the pet rule.

There is nothing wrong with keeping an animal to aid your lack of comfort, but it should not be used as an excuse to go around the pet rule. Remember, these rules and laws are implemented to sustain the residents’ peace and safety in the said community.

Some use this opportunity and even go beyond hiring an illegitimate prescription and doctor’s notes to support their claim of needing comfort pets. Since this happens in most cases, some HOA has started implementing a said pet law requirement.

So, what are you going to need to be excused from the said pet law? You will have to present a statement from a licensed professional. The statement must contain the findings that the patient has a mental or emotional disability that a comfort animal is necessary for their treatment and well-being.


#4. Application for pet restrictions

One of the association’s main responsibilities is to enforce and implement succeeding laws and regulations. The same responsibility applies in enforcing pet restrictions in the community. The HOA’s board has full rights to impose a fine of a warning letter to the unit owners that have failed to comply with the said rules.

But to make things legal, the HOA’s board’s actions must be inlined with their founding documents—the bylaws. The HOA also has the right to remove the said unit owner or the pet from their community if it fails to cooperate with the rules and regulations.

Although with the said rules, the HOA documents must also be consistent to avoid misunderstandings and cause their documents to backfire against them. Behind every law that the HOA documents are supporting has a purpose, and the board must ensure that they have this in mind upon enforcing the said laws.


#5. Grandfathering

Although the laws supported by the HOA’s documents are considerably consistent, some cases are still part of the exemption, and that is grandfathering. Grandfathering is applicable in some cases that the rules have been exempted before another rule is implemented.

For instance, your pet has a certain breed that was allowable at first, and you were exempted from the rule, then the HOA implemented another that made your breed banned. You are still exempted from the new law because your pet was exempted in the first place before the amendment.

Although you may be exempted from the new rule, the document may enforce a deadline or an expiration date to the exemption period. These situations may include the transfer of ownership of the unit or the pet owner no longer owns the unit. It will allow the HOA to remove the grandfather clause.


A Case Regarding Dog Bite In A Community

In some cases, can a homeowner’s association be liable for a dog bite in the neighborhood? Of course, yes, the said association may be liable if seen as negligent about implementing the rules and regulations in the community, especially if the incident happened within the jurisdictions of the said association.

Like what happened in the case of Barrwood Homeowners Assoc., Inc. v. Maser, 675 So. 2d 983 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1996), the court found the association negligent and brought upon the verdict of compensating the appellate of the injuries suffered.

A dog owned by a unit owner in the said association attacked the victim in a common area within the association’s reach of authority. The appellate suffered injuries and a dog bite that caused medical attention. please read hee