What Are Some of the California Tenant/Landlord Rules About Pets In HOAs?

If you live in a homeowner association in particular, questions may have come up about the presence (or not) of pets when leasing property:

California passed new pet laws effective in 2000 for homeowner association owners, allowing a minimum of one dog, cat, fish, or bird (simply speaking) per owner.  The homeowner association is allowed to set further rules concerning size, number of pets above one, and other rules including the presence of animals in the common area, or animal behaviors, as long as they don't conflict with state law.

So what does this mean for tenants who are renting in a homeowner association, because the pet laws for owners do not necessarily apply towards tenants, the exception to many of the following rules being if the tenant is disabled and requires a certain service animal under "reasonable accommodation" rules.
  • A landlord may ban pets in a lease; the law allowing pets in an HOA concerns owners, not their tenants.
  • A landlord can restrict breeds or types of pets.
  • A larger deposit may be charged if a pet is allowed, but the total deposit must comply with California's rules about maximum security deposits.
  • If allowed in a homeowner association, the pet provisions will apply concerning any rules such as cleaning up pet waste in the common area, being leashed in the common area, or areas where pets may be allowed or prohibited such as pools or other recreation areas.
  • If, for example, a dog bites or harms the postal worker who is on the property delivering mail, the dog's owner will be responsible for his/her pet, and the property owner could also have some responsibility depending on the circumstances involved.
  • A landlord/tenant lease can require the tenant to obtain renter's insurance to cover pets on the premises.
For more detailed information, please contact me via phone or e-mail to be sent a more detailed summary prepared through California Association of Realtors about landlord/tenant pet laws and how they might affect you, whether you are or will be a landlord, tenant, or someone who may want to know more about service animals in this situation.


Vince Marino said...

Follow up question:
I recently moved into a condo in an HOA (in california). The CCR's written in 1972, specifically state that owners may have pets, but not tenants.
One of the units is rented to tenants with pets. I have pets myself and have no problem with the tenant.
My question: Is it legal in California for an HOA to restrict pets belonging to tenants but not owners? I am well aware an individual landlord may impose a restriction, but the HOA?

Julia Huntsman said...

Vince, in 2000, the California law stated that HOAs must allow owners to have at least one pet within guidelines that the HOA could issue. Interesting that your HOA had rules from 1972 about pets. But, as to tenants rights, it might take further legal consultation: on the one hand the law concerns owners' rights about pets, and on the other hand there's the argument that if the HOA permits owners to have pets, that right passes to the tenant. But since your CCRs specifically state tenants may NOT have pets, that could supersede, since it may not violate state law. I don't want to get into my own legal conclusions here, so I will quote our HOA attorneys' recent newsletter on this:

"Renter Pet Rights. The argument for renters' pets is the general proposition that boards cannot adopt rules inconsistent with the CC&Rs. If the CC&Rs allow owners to have pets, that right is passed to tenants. Except for voting rights and the right to attend board meetings, which are reserved to members only, renters enjoy all of the rights and privileges of an owner when they rent a unit. In Liebler v Point Loma Tennis Club, the court held that when a common interest owner leases his unit the renter automatically receives all rights to use and enjoy the common areas.

"No Renter Pet Rights. The other side argues that the Liebler decision dealt only with the transfer of common area usage rights to a tenant, and keeping a pet is not a common area right. As a result, Liebler v. Point Loma cannot be used to support a tenant's right to keep a pet. Following are additional arguments:

"1. Statutory Interpretation. The Davis-Stirling Act does not support renters' pets. The Act was amended in 2001 to state:

"No governing documents shall prohibit the owner of a separate interest within a common interest development from keeping at least one pet within the common interest development, subject to reasonable rules and regulations of the association. (Civ. Code §1360.5(a).)
"The key word is “owner.” The statute gives rights to owners not renters. The Legislature could have expanded the section to include renters or even more broadly to "residents" but chose not to. Many other provisions in the Act reference renters (such as Civ. Code §1360.2) but the Legislature chose not to include them when it came to pets."
Your HOA might want to get further consultation on this question. Thanks for asking.


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