Family Law Questions? Ask a Family Lawyer Online.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If I have answered your question, PLEASE CLICK THE GREEN "ACCEPT" button NOW, so that I receive credit for my work. Bonuses are optional and greatly appreciated. Please keep in mind that I don't make the laws, I am just reporting/interpreting them, so the outcome may not be what you had hoped for.
If you need additional clarification on this question, just click "Reply" and I will be happy to help you. Please give me as much detail as you can so that I can respond after receiving all the relevant details.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).