HOA’s and Chickens | Weekly Sum-Up for Pint Size Farm

HOA and backyard chickens

Does your HOA allow backyard chickens?

This has been a frustrating week for me! For those of you who do not know, I do live in an HOA (and yes, HOA's discourage chickens). Somebody decided they would like chickens the “right way” and decided to bring it up to the board. Well, to change the vote we need 68% of all homeowners to actually come in and give a “yes” vote for chickens. No shows (including the builders, who own two of the seventy-one lots), people behind on their dues (there are a few homes in foreclosure, but that does not mean they are behind in their dues), and people who rent count as an automatic “no”. Unless, of course, the builders or landlords are willing to come and vote “yes” for a neighborhood they don't even live in. So much for the “do it and pray” tactic. Since it was brought up they walked around searching backyards for coops and gave a “friendly notice” that they will need to be removed.

Let's see, 71 homes: 2 lots, 3 foreclosures, I believe there are at least 4 renters although I do know somebody who knows one of the landlords and she said she would give a yes vote. 9 people pre-voted “no” on a neighborhood poll and 5 pre-voted “yes”. That would mean I need 42 of the remaining 48 people to be willing to take time out of their day and vote yes for chickens. It's a long-shot to say the least. I will be pursuing it (and my chickens have a good home in the meantime), but it might just mean we will not be able to have them until we move.

Yes, I know HOA's are horrible and when we moved here “non-HOA” was at the top of our list. Unfortunately, we live in HOA world Arizona (approximately 89% of the homes in Chandler are in HOA's but I couldn't find Tucson statistics. On average, 75% of newly built homes are built into an HOA and since Arizona has seen a lot of new construction over the last 15 years almost everything here is in an HOA). When we looked, the non-HOA homes were the ones that had “protected home values” that the HOA homes always claim. The HOA homes were in foreclosure, had liens from being in an HOA, and had a fewer amount of people willing to buy it because of the HOA. Supply and demand meant that we just couldn't afford one of the few non-HOA homes. We looked for almost a full year (living with my in-laws in the meantime since we had moved here from Kansas City)… homes with “no HOA!!!” at the top of the listing always got top dollar and sold fast. We finally had to give in and purchase an HOA home.

We did choose a home in an HOA that seemed to be chicken-friendly. At the time that we purchased there were 3 homes that had chickens in their backyard, including one with a rooster. We talked to them and other neighbors and a few more expressed interest in getting backyard chickens. We thought we were home-free.

In any case, I will be writing up responses to the basic non-chicken arguments and I will post them here as I do. If they do not help me, hopefully they will at least help another HOA stuck person. I'll keep you posted as to how our fight goes. Arizona just passed (through the Senate – not the House yet) a law that says cities cannot ban chickens, only make noise/smell/amount ordinances. They say it is a freedom of property to choose the pets you want and the ordinances should take care of the rest. Good for them, it doesn't apply to HOA's, but at the very least, if it passes, it will be an interesting court case when somebody challenges the HOA's ability to do something the state deems illegal. Of course, HOA's have nearly unlimited funds and most homeowners not so much. We had to pay a few thousand dollars for a lien the previous owners had acquired for not paying their own dues. Only a few hundred of that were their delinquent fees. The rest… lawyer dues.

In case you missed it, here were the posts from this week!

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  • Reply Adam Kielich May 15, 2014, 4:05 pm

    I’m guessing the vote didn’t swing your way. I live in an HOA community myself and our HOA is completely useless. We have a neighbor who has been breaking into homes and cars, among other criminal activity, and has piles of trash in the front yard. The HOA won’t do anything. They claim it’s the other neighbor’s responsibility to call the police and have them do something about it.

    As far as the state statute prohibiting chickens, that will have no bearing on the HOA because the HOA is a private entity.
    Adam Kielich recently posted…Larson v. St. Francis Hotel — a famous case about a falling chairMy Profile

    • Reply Heidi May 15, 2014, 11:02 pm

      We haven’t had the vote yet. The board president’s boyfriend started giving me the creeps and I backed off. He started hanging around my home (in the front yard and a few times he parked behind our lot). As soon as he saw me he would speed away. The last time I saw him I was leaving my house and it scares me that he might have tried to break in. Plus, I have small children and a grown man staking out a home with the excuse of “chickens” just seems odd to me. The board has been told by our manager to release information to the group who wants chickens and they are not doing that (according to our manager they have been told multiple times). He seems unstable to me and it isn’t worth the safety of my family. We started looking at land elsewhere although if any of the other 8 families who want them start something I would be willing to help them. As for the state statue – it depends on how it is written. Arizona has written laws that HOA’s cannot break (solar power for example, HOA’s can’t enforce anything that says you can’t have solar power on your roof).
      Heidi recently posted…HomeAcre Homesteading Blog HopMy Profile

  • Reply glenda ruff September 6, 2014, 7:57 pm

    We just had to et rid of our 11 hens. The children were upset but the HOA sent a notice. We were following phoenix rules. 20 hen with written permission from neighbors within 80 feet of coop. My gripe is that they claim I was keeping them in the front yard! they only way they would know on most days I had chickens is if they looked over my fence. That is against the law. We think they drove by on a day the chicken got out and were sitting on the fence. Darn chickens. We were able to keep them for almost a year. Look to Tucson they have pass ordinances (it would be in their General Plan) stating HOA cannot supersede sustainable living ie edible landscape, small farm animals and produce stands in your driveway! I am currently working on a proposal for that in phoenix. If that works I want to take it statewide. I have a BA from ASU school of Sustainability in Urban Dynamics with a minor in Urban Planning. I know the laws and how to work around the red tape. So watch for it

    • Reply Heidi September 6, 2014, 10:41 pm

      🙁 I’m so sorry. We are just outside Tucson. I know of the ordinance, but I was told that HOA’s always supersede. Most HOA’s can look in your backyard – did you see the court case with the people who were upset because the HOA was using google map to search for infractions! Crazy. Arizona tried to pass a property rights (statewide) ordinance, but stated that HOA’s would still have the power to change it (even over state law). It’s just too bad that most the homes in Arizona are in HOA’s. I guess it is because of the housing boom.

    • Reply Richelle August 19, 2015, 11:05 pm

      Would LOVE an update from either of you on your progress. I am in Ahwatukee in Phoenix and am currently gearing up to approach my HOA about allowing chickens. CC&Rs prohibit right now and I’m being told I need 100% homeowner approval to make fundamental change. Wondering if an amendment would be considered differently. Any guidance would be much appreciated!!!

      • Reply Heidi January 12, 2016, 2:27 pm

        Mine did not go though. We purchased some land and are planning on moving from the HOA. That said, my neighbor kept her chickens (nobody in this area has ratted her out). If she is caught then it is a $500 fine and she will have 30 days to get rid of them. I didn’t risk it.
        Heidi recently posted…Bathroom Recycling Tips – Living GreenMy Profile

  • Reply julie knox March 10, 2015, 5:13 am

    Can the HOA enforce a fine schedule when they never had a fine schedule before I had the chicken issue.

    • Reply Heidi March 10, 2015, 12:51 pm

      The law depend on your specific HOA, but more than likely they can. Most HOA’s have something in their official documents that say the board can add rules. Since you are asked to sign the original document saying that it generally stands. A lawyer would know better. Good luck!

  • Reply Jennifer Olin September 24, 2015, 12:50 pm

    I have just come up against the similar issue that you originally had. I did my due diligence, “campaigned” and all the local residents (that are full time residents) were behind me but with so many seasonal people owning homes that are uneducated about chickens and would either vote no because it doesn’t affect them, or they flat out get lost in the mail and were never received nor sent back…. It was not surprisingly voted down. Same scenario~ no one knows I had my 12 hens for the past 7 (yes, SEVEN years!!!) and I am being bullied by a handful of neighbors that just realized that I had chickens because one was pecking around the front yard (I live on 2 acres in the woods with no visible neighbors through the trees). Any help from you all will be greatly appreciated. I have until November 1st to “eliminate” them (which I have no intention of doing). I’ve thought of building a solid cedar fence on the two sides that could possibly be seen should someone get binoculars out and snoop through the trees (which they may try to do). They are quiet and no one knew there were even there for so long, I realistically could ask them to “prove” I have chickens at all as they definitely would have to trespass to do so. I also looked into registering them as “emotional support animals”. I work in a psychiatric facility within a hospital setting and can easily state that they calm me when I get home after a 13 hr shift in the acute unit. I can get a psychiatrist that I work with to write the necessary documentation easily. I’m just at a loss…. this is so ridiculous and I’m trying hard not to be extremely angry over it. Thank you for your time! I anxiously await any input at all……

    Jennifer
    [email protected]

    • Reply Heidi January 12, 2016, 2:21 pm

      Sorry I am so late in replying, I had a baby and took 6 months off blogging! It is completely ridiculous and I am sorry you are going through it. My kiddos still tear up when talking about “their chickens”. I did hear of one person who had a solid fence say they just said it was their kids when they were asked about the chicken noises, LOL! Honestly though, HOA’s generally have a clause where they can go onto your property (if they want to push it) to check for things that are out of line. On a positive note, here in Tucson we just passed a chicken clause. It doesn’t affect HOA’s, but maybe it will lighten up in the future.
      Heidi recently posted…Bathroom Recycling Tips – Living GreenMy Profile

  • Reply Jennifer Olin September 24, 2015, 1:04 pm

    PS. I forgot to mention that there wasn’t any current CC&R’s that were signed when I bought my house stating anything against chickens and that I liven Oregon, Deschutes county to be precise, where within city limits 4+ hens ARE allowed currently…… Thank you!

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