Every homeowners association (HOA) should have some kind of pet policy in place, especially if there are locations in which people congregate and bring their pets, such as common areas in condos, outdoor event spaces and pools. It’s important to cover your bases with regard to liability in the event of a dog bite or other such occurrence. This is because an HOA may be liable if a dog bites a person in a common area owned by the association.
The board of directors for the HOA has a duty to all members of the community to maintain the property, which includes a duty to keep the property safe and warn people of any known dangers. Here’s some more in-depth information from an HOA attorney in Arizona.
Examples of potential liability
Let’s say that a dog owned by someone in your HOA community escapes out of an enclosed area because your HOA did not properly maintain or repair the fence that would have held it in. in this case, you could very well be found responsible/liable for any damages caused by the dog.
You could also be deemed liable for any dog-related damages if you had notice that there were loose dogs in the common areas but did not take appropriate actions to prevent the damage in question from occurring.
To avoid issues of liability in these types of scenarios, it’s important for your association to have restrictions and regulations addressing dangerous dogs. As part of the pet policy that you have at your association, you should have requirements for owners to remove dangerous dogs from the premises, or at the very least to keep the dog inside or in a secure enclosure. Such dogs should not be allowed to roam around the community freely, and should be leashed and restrained when walked or in common areas.
There should also be specific definitions in place for what qualifies as a dangerous dog. Some HOAs choose to label specific breeds as being dangerous dogs, while others say dogs with a history of biting people or other domestic animals should be classified as dangerous. In addition, it is advised to require the owner of dangerous dogs or dog breeds to have insurance policies that cover liability for dog bites, which gives you a source of restitution in the event that a resident is injured as a result of a dog attack.
You would likely be surprised by how few HOAs actually have these types of restrictions in place, but a failure to enact these types of regulations opens up your association to potential liability and expensive personal injury claims. It’s important that you do your due diligence to cover yourself, as you can never fully guarantee that there won’t be a dog-related incident on your premises.
For more information about how you can handle dog liability and issues associated with dangerous dogs at your HOA, contact Goodman Holmgren today to speak with an HOA attorney in Arizona. We look forward to working with you.