Tuesday, April 10, 2012

When We Move to a New House, Can We Get a Pony?

Horse and animal restrictions on Minnesota acreage properties

Last year, during a final walkthrough of an acreage home my buyers were purchasing in Anoka County, one of their daughters ran up to me giggling and said, “Joe thinks you are buying him a pony.”

“Oh…really?” was all I could think to respond.

Mom nodded that yes it was a fact, Joe had it in his three-year-old head that I was going to drop off a four-hoofed pet on move-in day. While I have been known to give a closing gift to my clients, I have never offered a pet as a present…especially a pony!

This particular precocious toddler must have mixed up some of the conversations during our home search outings. As we searched for the perfect Minnesota acreage home throughout Anoka, Chisago and Washington Counties, there was quite a bit of discussion of horses. The reason this city-dwelling-but-soon-to-be-country family was relocating to a more rural property complete with a polebarn, was so his older sisters could get horses.

But acreage alone does not make a horse property. The fact is, many potential acreage homebuyers are surprised to find out that there restrictions on animals in the country. Though leash laws and licenses are expected in most urban environments, many people don’t realize that rural communities also have rules, ordinances, covenants and restrictions regarding animals.

So if you are planning a move to a more rural environment and want to have a horse, raise chickens or just have a couple of dogs and cats, it is important to check the restrictions  before writing an offer to purchase a home.

Each county, city and even specific development will have rules, restrictions and covenants in regard to animal ownership. The current code for the City of Ham Lake, where I live has a number of specific rules for pet ownership. For instance, owners of more than two dogs must obtain a private kennel license. You can raise chickens or pigeons with a temporary conditional use permit. Horses, or other animals with hooves like a pony, can be kept if a permit is obtained from the city prior to obtaining the animal and land is designated R-A or residential agricultural.

Now, a few miles away in the City of Columbus, a homeowner can keep up to four dogs before being required to get a kennel license. And in the City of Wyoming, horses are allowed on properties that are larger than five acres but no more than 1 horse per 2 acres. There can also be restrictions on grazing acres versus wetland or unusable acres. One time I came across a development with 10 acre parcels that had covenants restricting the land use to exclude horses. Bottom line: There is no hard and fast rule regarding whether rural properties will allows animals. Each home must be researched to verify any restrictions.

So what should a home buyer who has promised the kids a pony do?

Work with a REALTOR® that specializes in acreage and knows how to find homes with a place for your pets. Be flexible on areas/communities you want to relocate to. If pets are a priority, write any offer contingent upon being able to have the number of horses, dogs or chickens that will be part of your family household. Make it a practice to call the city and/or county regarding any pet or animal ownership restrictions. Check with the seller regarding all covenants that would restrict pet ownership. So if your move to acreage requires a place for a pony, make sure it is allowed!

Copyright 2012 Teri Eckholm http://www.terieckholm.com/

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