Homeowners associations have more power than is often realized. Did you know, for example, that an association can impose a leash law for dogs on its members that is stricter than city ordinances?
When someone buys a condominium or a townhouse, it often involves joining a homeowners association. In exchange for an annual fee, the association typically takes care of yard work, including lawn mowing, leaf raking and snow shoveling. Many associations also handle maintenance on the outside of buildings, such as repairing shingles or siding.
But as with any exercise in democracy, the common benefits come at a certain price in loss of individual choice. Residents can become concerned when it seems as if the association is exercising too much control. For example, some associations have strict guidelines on color of the paint that residents can use on the exterior of their units.
In Minnetonka, an issue arose when a member of a homeowners association questioned whether the association could impose a stricter leash rule than the city itself. The city allows a dog to be unleashed if it is at its owner's side and obedient to the owner's commands. The homeowners association requires a dog to always be leashed when outside, even in the owner's yard. Fines can be assessed for violations.
Homeowners associations are allowed to do this. In fact, they often adopt rules that are stricter than city ordinances.
If you have questions about what the law says about homeowners associations, contact an experienced attorney.