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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Attorney with 14 years experience
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My doctor has prescribed a companion pet for me. I live in

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My doctor has prescribed a companion pet for me. I live in a no-pet co-op. I submitted my doctor's letter on December 14, 2010. The management company said I had to wait until the next board meeting, January 20, 2011, for the board to review my doctor's request. After the board meeting on January 20, 2011, the management then told me they were unable to print my doctor's letter, which I had e-mailed to them after asking if they needed the original (they said e-mailing a copy would be fine). Therefore, they were unable to give my doctor's letter to their laywer. I gave them the original letter on January 21, 2011, and asked they give this to their laywere ASAP. The management company now says I have to wait until the next board meeting, February 22, 2011, for an answer. I feel they are needlessly delaying my prescribed medical treatment for my mental illness (getting a companion pet) and want to know why my rights are. Thank you.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 3 years ago.

Hello,

 

If you have a prescription for the companion animal, then I would opine that you can go ahead and get the animal regardless of when the board meets next as they can not deny you the animal.

.

The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act protect the right of people with disabilities to keep emotional support animals, even when a policy explicitly prohibits pets. Because emotional support and service animals are not "pets," but rather are considered to be more like assistive aids such as wheelchairs, the law will generally require the management to make an exception to its "no pet" policy so that a resident with a disability can fully use and enjoy his or her dwelling.

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In most housing complexes, so long as the resident has a letter or prescription from an appropriate professional, such as a therapist or physician, and meets the definition of a person with a disability, he or she is entitled to a reasonable accommodation that would allow an emotional support animal in the unit.

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Discrimination under the FHA includes "a refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford [a person with a disability] an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling." 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B). So long as the requested accommodation does not constitute an undue financial or administrative burden for the management, or fundamentally alter the nature of the housing, the management must provide the accommodation.

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The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and several courts have explicitly stated that an exception to a "no pets" policy would qualify as a reasonable accommodation. See, e.g., Bronk v. Ineichen, 54 F.3d 425, 429 (7th Cir. 1995) (balanced against landlord's economic or aesthetic concerns as expressed in a no-pets policy, deaf tenant's need for accommodation of hearing dog is per se reasonable); Fulciniti v. Village of Shadyside Condominium Association, No. 96-1825 (W.D. Pa. Nov. 20, 1998) (defendant condominium association had not presented any evidence suggesting that the tenant's assistive animal created a threat or disturbance, and therefore violated the FHA by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation); Occupancy Requirements of Subsidized Multifamily Housing Programs, HUD, No. 4350.3, exhibit 2-2 (1998) (it would not constitute a fundamental alteration in the nature of the program or activity to require the Owner to make an exception to the no pets rule so that tenant could keep assistive animal, where "assistive animal" includes emotional support animals for people with chronic mental illness).

.

Although the management is entitled to ask for supporting materials which document the need for an emotional support animal, federal law does not require the resident to provide proof of training or certification of the animal. The two courts that have addressed this issue directly - the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the U.S. District Court of Oregon - have held that the only requirements to be classified as a service animal under federal regulations are that the animal be (1) individually trained, and (2) work for the benefit of an individual with a disability. For a more detailed discussion, see Bronk v. Ineichen, 54 F.3d 425 (7th Cir. 1995) and Green v. Housing Authority of Clackamas County, 994 F.Supp. 1253 (Or. 1998).

.

So the long and short of it is that if it is not an undue burden or a fundamental alteration, the management must grant the requested accommodation and can not require any type of certification of the animal.

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I would suggest printing out a copy of this and delivering it to the management letting him know that if they deny your request to have an emotional support animal, you will file suit for discrimination under the various laws cited above.

.

.

thanks

Barrister

 

 

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Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 23377
Experience: Attorney with 14 years experience
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