Top Realtor POV: Home Is Where Your Dog Is (But Check the CC&Rs First)
Writings about residential real estate, San Francisco, and all things home, by Lisa Auer, J.D. of Kindred SF Homes
One of the biggest reasons people cite for wanting to buy a home is having space for a dog. And San Francisco is a city of dog lovers.
You’ve probably heard the line: There are more dogs than children in the city. Well, it’s actually true. According to 2020 U.S. census data, children make up just 13% of San Francisco’s population—which equals about 113,000 children.
It’s impossible to know exactly how many dogs live in San Francisco, since only a small percentage are registered with the city. Estimates range from 120,000 to more than 150,000. (Note: Pet owners are supposed to license any dog over 4 months old with Animal Care and Control and renew every 1-3 years.)
Many buyers in San Francisco will purchase a condo or TIC (tenancy-in-common) unit, rather than a single-family house. This can raise some issues for dog lovers. Most homeowner associations have pet restrictions or limitations, so buyers should always review the CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions) or TIC agreement before buying. For example, it’s common to see limitations on the number and types of pets allowed, as well as weight and breed restrictions for dogs. If an owner violates the rules about pets, the HOA can go to court and get an injunction ordering them to get rid of the animal.
While HOAs can prohibit certain types of pets, they cannot ban pets entirely. Under California law (the Davis-Sterling Act), no condo association can prohibit an owner from keeping at least one pet, subject to the HOA rules. “Pet” is defined here as “any domesticated bird, cat, dog, aquatic animal kept within an aquarium, or other animal as agreed to between the association and the homeowner.” (Note: The Davis-Sterling Act does not apply to TICs, which are private contracts and governed by general contract law.) Furthermore, under California law, a resident with a physical or mental disability generally must be allowed to have a service dog or emotional support animal in any type of housing.
Please reach out to me if you have any questions about finding a new home for you and your fur-baby!
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