When a homeowner purchases a home in a covenant protected community he/she enters into a contract with the association.  The owner agrees to be bound by the restrictions contained in the community’s governing documents, which includes the declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions that are recorded with the Clerk and Recorder’s Office of the county in which that community is located.  Those restrictions are legally binding upon all property owners in the community.When a county adopts an ordinance to allow certain activities within its purview, such ordinance does NOT trump that contractual agreement between the owner and the association.  Lately, we’ve seen this issue come up quite a bit with respect to chickens, where an ordinance allows chickens in the county, but a covenant does not.  In this case, the more restrictive rule applies and chickens are not allowed.Whether or not the county allows a homeowner to have chickens on his/her property does not change the legal obligations of such owner to also comply with covenants.The Colorado Supreme Court looked at this situation in 1970 and stated “We do not consider it in character with a planned residential community for a person to maintain a flock of 21 assorted poultry on his property.”  However, the Supreme Court also clarified that it did not mean to say that chickens may not be kept as “pets” if raised by the owner as a pet.Based on the above Supreme Court decision, it’s imperative that associations clearly define “household pet” in its rules, where such term is not defined in the covenants.In addition, even if your covenants do not prohibit chickens and the county or city allows them, homeowners cannot build a chicken hutch/coop without complying with any pre-approval requirements of an association or exterior modifications.  So if homeowners are asking about raising chickens or other poultry in your community, they are still required to comply with the governing documents of the community even if the county they live in allows poultry.  And, if the homeowners are seeking to build a hutch or coop, they cannot build any enclosure for the chickens without obtaining the pre-approval as required in the governing documents.
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