You have had a cat and a dog in your residence for three years. The cat never leaves your residence. The dog only leaves the residence on a leash and you diligently scoop the poop. No one has ever complained to you about your dog or cat. Suddenly, you receive a letter from your association directing that you remove your dog and cat from the residence. Can the association do this?
This is governed by Civil Code section 1360.5 entitled “Responsibility for Pets.”This statute states that the owner may keep one pet in accordance with the reasonable rules and regulations of the association. A pet is defined as a bird, dog, cat or fish. Two fish may violate the statute!
The statute applies only to governing documents that were entered into, amended or otherwise modified after January 1, 2001. The association’s restrictions as to pets is not applicable to pets that were on the property in conformity with the rules of the association prior to the enactment of the statute on January 1, 2001.
The landmark case in this area is Nahrstedt v. Lakeside Village Condominium Association (1994) 8 Cal. 4th 361. In this case, the owner had 3 cats within her housing unit. The cats never left the housing unit. The cats did not create any problem for anyone else in the association. The CC&R’s prohibited dogs or cats. The California Supreme Court held that the restriction was reasonable and the cats had to go.
There are separate rules for guide dogs and other pets that may be necessary for persons who are disabled under the fair housing laws. Under limited circumstances, the courts have allowed pets to remain on the property contrary to the CC&R’s where necessary for the owner’s depression. These cases have required substantiation by a medical doctor.
In an unpublished court decision, the association prohibited any dogs over 15 lbs. This decision was upheld. San Vicente Villas Homeowners Association v. Marie Cohen (12/1703).
Therefore, based on the foregoing, the owner will have to remove either the cat or the dog, but not both.