Explained: Can Housing Societies Impose Charges for Keeping Pets in Residential Projects?

Explained: Can Housing Societies Impose Charges for Keeping Pets in Residential Projects?

The recent controversy surrounding a resident welfare association (RWA) in Bengaluru charging a Rs 10,000 “registration fee” for keeping pet dogs in apartments has brought the issue of man-animal conflicts to the forefront. The RWA of Ittina Mahavir, a housing project in Electronic City, North Bengaluru, is collecting this refundable deposit, which residents must pay by November 15. The fee is refundable when the resident vacates the apartment. The RWA has also introduced strict guidelines for walking pets inside the society.

The conflict over pet policies in Bengaluru is growing, given the city’s expanding real estate market. Many activists and legal experts argue that the current pet policies in the city are outdated and urgently require intervention by local authorities to prevent disputes between RWAs and residents from escalating.

What do the experts say?

Thejeshwar, an animal welfare officer at Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA), mentioned that while this incident may seem isolated, multiple associations are increasingly imposing charges for allowing dogs within housing projects. He pointed out that some societies either charge registration or maintenance fees, often including these provisions in their association bylaws. The lack of clear guidelines from local authorities exacerbates these issues.

Col. Nawaz Shariff, a former Deputy Inspector General and chief veterinarian at PFA Wildlife Hospital in Bengaluru, emphasized that such circulars or notifications have no legal standing. Residents facing such issues should promptly reach out to local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI). Local NGOs can act swiftly, while the AWBI can take legal actions and issue notices to RWAs.

What does the local municipal body say?

Dr. Manjuanth Shinde, Assistant Director of Animal Husbandry at Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the municipal body, stated that such rules are not only unauthorized but also illegal. The BBMP has basic guidelines, and pet owners are responsible for ensuring their pets do not pose harm to others. If attacks occur, BBMP policies require the pet owner to cover any related charges. However, charging registration fees is not considered legal.

Shinde recommended that residents facing such issues could contact the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) or the SPCA chapter of Bengaluru, run by a group of animal activists and rescuers under the state government’s guidance.

Local municipal body’s plan for an updated pet policy

Shinde revealed that the local municipal body is already working on an updated pet policy for pet registration in Bengaluru, along with clear guidelines for residential projects. This proposal is currently awaiting approval from the urban development department and is expected to be released soon. The goal is to address the existing outdated pet policies and provide a framework to prevent conflicts between RWAs and residents.

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