When helping people find a home, one issue we frequently come across is whether the property allows animals, how many animals, and what types of animals. For example, clients will ask, "In which areas are chickens allowed?"
Property in a Development with a Homeowners’ Association
Homeowners’ associations (HOAs, sometimes referred to as property owners’ associations (POAs)) almost always have restrictions on the animals homeowners can own within the development. Homeowners in a neighborhood with an HOA must follow the HOA, regardless of what the local ordinances allow. However, HOAs cannot supersede federal law related to housing. For example, even if an HOA prohibited pets, the neighborhood could not refuse to allow an individual with a service animal to live in the neighborhood with the animal.
When buyers are considering a home in a neighborhood with an HOA, we recommend considering a few things with regards to pets/animals:
HOAs frequently prohibit farm animals of any kind, so be sure to check the covenants if interested in having chickens.
HOAs also may prohibit reptiles.
Commonly, HOAs restrict the number of cats and dogs a homeowner can have--typically, the limit is 2-3 of each.
The restrictive covenants of an HOA frequently prohibit any pets that create a nuisance. Some examples of a nuisance include if a homeowner had too many pets at once and a dog that frequently barked.
Restrictive covenants also frequently prohibit keeping animals for any commercial purpose.
Finally, some HOAs restrict dogs based on breed, such as American Pit Bull Terrier, German Shepherd Dog, and Rottweiler, and size.
Of course, we always strongly recommend interested buyers carefully read the restrictive covenants to make sure nothing takes them by surprise once they’ve already closed on a home. Additionally, finding a home that is close to dog parks can help alleviate some HOA issues.
Property within City Limits
The ordinances governing property within city limits have much fewer restrictions than in a neighborhood with an HOA. Typically, within city limits in the Triangle area, there are no dog breed restrictions; however, this type of restriction is becoming more common across the country.
One issue that we frequently come across is whether residents can have chickens on their property. Chickens are allowed in most of the Triangle area, but there are typically some restrictions, including number of chickens, enclosure requirements, and a requirement to obtain a permit. Most cities do not allow roosters. Regardless of whether the local ordinances have any restrictions on chickens, every city has an ordinance regulating nuisances, which includes noise, smell, and cleanliness. Remember - these ordinances can and will change if enough residents advocate for change, so if the area you are interested in living has restrictions that you think are too strict, advocate for them to be more lenient!
Below is a brief summary of some of the city ordinances in the Triangle area, specifically focused on chickens. For specific questions, contact the city.
Residents of within Raleigh’s city limits can have both hens and roosters. Residents are not required to obtain a permit, and there is no limit on the number of chickens.
In Cary, residents can have chickens in single-family residential zoning districts. In certain zoning districts, no permit is required and there is no limit to the number of chickens. In others, the resident must obtain a permit and can only have up to 5 female chickens.
In Apex, it is prohibited to keep livestock or male chickens within city limits. Livestock includes: Cows, goats, sheeps, swine, and other similar animals. The following animals are not prohibited: Horses, ponies, rabbits, and fowl except male chickens.
Knightdale residents can have up to 5 female chickens.
Residents of Garner can have up to 8 female chickens with a permit.
Wake Forest allows up to 10 female chickens. No permit is required.
Durham has one of the stricter ordinances regarding chickens. In Durham, residents can keep up to 10 female chickens for personal use with a permit. The permit process involves providing notice to neighbors, and if any neighbor objects, the application will go through an administrative review process. Once the permit is issued, and after the resident constructs a coop and pen for the chickens, an individual from the Planning Department will inspect the property to ensure it complies with all requirements.
Property within County Limits
Property located within county limits, not city limits, has the least amount of restrictions with regards to animals. Generally, there are very few restrictions on what animals residents can own. However, there may be restrictions on whether residents can have livestock for commercial use. First, find out what zoning district the land is in, then check the county ordinances to find out what’s allowed in that district.