Burying Deceased Pets or Ashes in HOA or Condo Common Area

Burying Deceased Pets or Ashes in an HOA Common Area: Is it a right?

I saw a post recently on an unusual subject and found it interesting. Then I received the same type of question from a reader! Since it seems unlikely that this would all of a sudden become a popular issue, I suspect it was the same person. Anyway, the question asked was whether it was okay for a resident to bury a  deceased pet in the common area – what harm would be done.  I would add these queries to that question – if the board finds out about it, or if consent is requested, what should the board do?

I think the board should just say no. If discovered after the fact, offer the owner the opportunity to move the remains and if they do not, have the landscapers “restore” the area.

The post by Davis-Stirling.com found a number of potential issues: They included reference to Civil Code Section 1367.07 which requires approval of 2/3 of the members to grant exclusive use of common area to an owner. It might be possible to get approval, although highly unlikely. They raised questions about who maintains the “site”, whether the owner should take the “remains” when they move, what happens if the site is vandalized, and whether all owners should be granted the same rights. Although addressed in light fashion, the raising of the several questions was intended, I believe, to show how ludicrous this could get.

Clearly, burial of remains or ashes is most likely not something a developer would contemplate when developing the common area. It would be a very unusual use, in fact. And clearly, the board has the final say on this, except that if 5% of the owners submitted a petition asking for a vote on the issue some lawyers would say the board would have to arrange it.  Still, my guess is that unless the association is very very small and 2/3 or more of the owners were very liberal thinkers about burial of pet remains, the idea would turn most people off.

When I was young we had pets, and buried some out in the back yard over several years as they died. Of course when we left the family home and moved on, we did not dig up any remains and I sometimes wondered what the new people would do since the “graves” were marked with youth crafted markers. We never heard anything from the new owners such as whether we wanted our pet remains. I suspect (or hoped anyway) that they planted something nice in the area.

There are pet cemetaries that are more suited to pet burials than common area in an HOA or Condo Association. And of course, scattering ashes in the wind in the pet’s (or great grandma’s) favorite vacation location might be a better option.


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3 Responses to Burying Deceased Pets or Ashes in HOA or Condo Common Area
  1. L. thomas
    January 24, 2012 | 6:02 am

    What about rats coming in from the outside common area. We have rats in between the shared walls and the HOA is denying responsibility. The HOA did send an exterminator out 3 years ago for the same problem but they now have no recollection of ever having sent an exterminator. Our CC&R’s state baring walls, columns, floors, ducts, roofs and foundation are common areas. Since the rodents are coming from the greenbelt common area into common walls isn’t it their responsibility to control rodents?

    • Beth Grimm
      April 10, 2012 | 9:59 pm

      if there is a prevailing problem in the association or coming from the common area, the board will have some obligation to explore prevention possibilities. The question of how far that duty extends in exploring solutions and just how much of the responsibility individual owners have, would either be dictated by the association documents or subject to a lawyer’s interpretation of just what prevailing law relating to duty requires. And part of the inquiry does depend on what boards have done in the past – but that is not always the determining factor, because some Boards do more than they should according to authority as defined for the association in its regulatory documents.

    • Beth Grimm
      August 10, 2017 | 3:33 pm

      See my comment to Koko.