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A Michigan family has been told by their homeowners association that they can’t raise chickens at their home in a planned community. In a letter to the family, the association demanded that the family comply with “applicable covenants” and remove the chickens they were keeping in their backyard as pets. But a lawyer for the family clarified that there was no regulation in the homeowners’ association rules prohibiting them from keeping chickens. However, the association changed its bylaws shortly thereafter; its rules now prohibit chickens.
By Andrea Brescia
By Andrea Brescia
For associations that have designated commercial space, finding the right tenant is critical. While there are a lot of retail stores that provide convenience, not every commercial tenant is necessarily a good fit for your community.
One of the draws of living in a planned community is aesthetics—uniformity in the design and appearance of homes, rules and regulations that prevent homeowners from putting up decorations that are eyesores, and specific paint themes and landscaping that are in good taste all make for a neighborhood that looks great. But there are times when members may want to make modifications to their homes. In these instances, the concern for associations is that these changes may affect the harmonious design of a community, decrease property values, and increase liability.
Living in close proximity in a condo building or sharing amenities year after year in more spread out planned communities can throw together members with different points of view—some of them controversial. The past year has created divisiveness in political conversations and discussions about recent exposes regarding sexual harassment. But some states had reported a rise in hostility and aggressive behavior among community association members even before national events brought up these issues to argue over.
Telecommuting has become commonplace in many industries, with workers being encouraged to work from locations other than their company’s office. Small business owners might try to save money initially by finding a solution to running their operation other than leasing commercial space that locks them into a lease and rent. And parents of young children sometimes decide to watch other children to bring in additional income. Seemingly diverse types of workers often have one thing in common: Their homes must sometimes double as work space.
Pets can enrich the lives of their owners, and many associations understand this and do allow members to have pets. However, dealing with pets in condominium communities requires balancing the freedoms pet-owning members enjoy on their privately owned property with the rights neighboring members have to enjoy their property. Some communities avoid this balancing act by banning pets entirely; others impose strict pet size and quantity limitations on members.
Although serving on the board of an association is a voluntary duty, unfortunately it can result in board members being sued. An association should do its best to shield board members from individual liability, though. A recent Texas appeals court ruling is an example of a situation where things ended well for board members who were being sued. There, a court determined that the board members, who were being sued by homeowners in a community that had been demolished, weren’t liable.