Legal Restrictions on Keeping Pets in Apartment ?
Updated: Jun 24
As a pet owner, we would like the best of the best for our pets. With the increase in ownership of pets and the introduction of various breeds, a sizable population of people in urban areas are now pet owners. But at times, some people might have objections regards to keeping pets in the apartment, usage of lifts by pets, feeding of stray dogs in the colony or gated community. And at times, the Residential Welfare Association might come up with by-laws that might prevent or add on some restrictions regards to keeping of a breed, use of common areas, problem due to barking of dogs, and other issues that the pet owners might find annoying considering they look at pets as their family.
So can an Apartment association or Residental Welfare Association prevent you from keeping dogs?
According to the circular issued by the Animal Welfare Board of India in 2015, with regards to guidelines in respect to pet and street dogs, The residential welfare associations, the apartment owner association, or any other similar parties cannot legally introduce any sort of ban on keeping pet dogs even by obtaining any consensus or even if the majority of residents and occupiers want it. Also, there can be no insistence on the type of dog breeds such as small dogs or large dogs being allowed on the premises. Dog barking cannot be cited as a valid and compelling reason for any proposed ban on restrictions. Unless or until the residents or occupiers have pets that are violating any municipal or other laws, it is not permissible for residents welfare association and apartment owners to object to having pets as companions. The general body cannot frame by-laws or amend them in a manner that is at variance with the laws of the country. Even by a complete majority, a general body cannot adopt illegality.
In short, any bye-laws or regulations that call for a ban to be put in place would be illegal as does not have the provision of law. In fact, in trying to ban pets or limit their numbers, the association would be interfering with fundamental freedom that is guaranteed to the citizen of India, that is the freedom to choose the life they wish to live, which includes facets such as living with or without companion animals.
Also, if any association succeeds in intimidating a pet owner into giving up or abandoning a pet it will be actually have abetted the violation of law; and intimidation is a legal offense.
Apart from the guidelines that prevent the association power in banning pets, the circular also has other areas covered such as
Usage of Lifts: Resident welfare associations and apartment owners associations cannot disallow pets from the use of lifts, and no charges can be imposed by them either. In case if there are alternate lifts in the building, and they are rules regards to usage of another working lift the pet owner should not object to the usage of an alternate lift that is working and conveniently accessible.
Cleaning of defects: Pet owners are advised to clean up when the pet defects in public premises, as a civic sense responsibility.Pet owners and associations can amicably agree on designate areas in apartments for this purpose. Unless there is an explicit state or central law on the same, RWAs and Apartment Owner Associations cannot impose rules, fines, or regulations on cleaning up pet excreta.
Leashing and Muzzle: Pet owners are advised to leash their pets in common areas. However, the resident welfare association and apartment cannot insist on the use of muzzles.
Usage of garden and parks: Pets cannot be banned from using the park or garden space, in the interest of parties the residents can arrive at a consensus at timing acceptable to all residents. When pets can be walked without inconvenience to the other residents.
Barking: Barking is a natural form of expression for a dog and must have to be tolerated in society. However, incessant barking can disturb neighbors. Pet owners are advised to make effort to keep their dogs quiet, particularly during night hours.
If ever there is a trouble or restrictions being cause by your apartment, resident welfare association regards to keeping of pets, you should communicate them about the guidelines issued by the Animal Welfare Board of India and the restrictions they have in place for enforcing any bans which are illegal and unlawful in nature.