What Does Your HOA Think of Backyard Chickens?

It pays to do your homework when it comes to keeping chickens.
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Hens Make Excellent Pets if Room Allows

Hens Make Excellent Pets if Room Allows

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

You’ve decided to take the leap. You’ve found plans for the perfect DIY chicken coop, picked out a friendly breed and read your copy of “Raising Chickens for Dummies.” Twice. A little online reading confirmed that your city welcomes residential poultry with open arms. All set, right?  Almost.

Turns out your homeowners association may feel differently. Although backyard chickens seem to be around every corner these days, many homeowners associations still prohibit them. Sometimes rules are rules and you may well have reached a dead end, but with a little legwork and determination, a brood of your own may still be within reach.

  • Know the Rules. Read the covenant. You may find the language is open to interpretation. If “farm animals” are prohibited, chickens may sometimes be kept as pets. It can’t hurt to have names picked out when you make this argument.
  • Do your Homework. If nearby subdivisions allow coops, find out what variances may have been employed. Get documentation whenever possible.
  • Talk to your Neighbors. If they are amenable to your plans, see if you can get it in writing. Petitions aren’t always effective, but it’s a good place to start.
  • Detail your Plans. Make sure your planned coop is attractive and adheres to any outbuilding guidelines that may be in place. How many chickens will you keep? Will you provide a contained run or will they free range? What is the distance between your planned coop location and nearby residences?
  • Provide Facts. Do your best to present home chickens in a positive light and dispel the myths and misconceptions that surround them. Cite city rules favoring residential chickens.
  • Introduce Yourself. If a presentation to a homeowners association board seems likely,  a casual conversation with its members beforehand may garner support and prevent any negative snap decisions later on.
  • Be Upfront. Although saying you’re sorry is sometimes easier than getting permission, fines may be levied and ill-will between neighbors is hard to shake in the long run.

Best of luck. And when you are successful, make sure to share those eggs with the folks you encountered along the way. Nothing says “thanks for the chickens” like a note of appreciation accompanied by the eggs they provide.

One last thing. If you’re considering a rooster, forget it. Never gonna happen.

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