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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 118286
Experience:  Licensed attorney practicing landlord-tenant, land use and other real estate law and litigation.
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I am being sued by my HOA regarding operating a business

Customer Question

I am being sued by my HOA regarding operating a business from my home. I own a dog walking/pet sitting business. I need to file an extension by Monday and I'm looking for an attorney to represent me. I have not caused any "problems" per se (no noise, nuisance, traffic or danger to my neighbors) and feel I am being treated unfairly since many people operate home businesses these days. I do bring dogs to my house, but they are like family to me. I know they will not outlaw baby sitting in out neighborhood and so why should our pets be any different? 2 years ago our deed restrictions were amended to allow people of color and certain religions to live in the neighborhood. That give me an indication that out deed restrictions are archaic and not practical in todays world and economy. Home pet care is one of the largest and fastest growing industrywide and mostly run by women. I am a woman and I need my dogs for emotional support too. Mine is registered as an ESA Emotional Support Animal and I am getting certified as a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator. Any thoughts??
JA: Because real estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state the association is in?
Customer: Houston, Texas Tanglewood Homeowners Association
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer yet?
Customer: no
JA: Anything else you think the lawyer should know?
Customer: There is more, but not now. I think that covers most of the bases. Thank you!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
You are talking about two different things here. First, a HOA can prohibit a resident from having any type of home business if it is in their bylaw or covenants and by purchasing in an HOA you agreed to be bound by those rules. If you fail to do so, you would be liable for fines under breach of contract (those covenants and bylaws).
You having a ESA has nothing to do with your business. You are entitled to have your ESA if you are deemed disabled by your doctor and in need of one. However, your right to an ESA does not expand into your right to have a dog walking or dog sitting business out of your home. The Americans with Disabilities Act allows for ONE ESA per person, not a dog sitting business.
Quite honestly, it is going to cost you about $250 an hour for an attorney on this and if there is a covenant in your bylaws or your association prohibiting home business, you likely will not win based on the facts you disclosed above.
However, there is an alternative solution if you rework your business plan and do your business by going to the home of each of your clients individually and not bringing anything to your home.