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Ask Barrister Your Own Question
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 36164
Experience:  16 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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I have been living in aurora housing authority/hud housing

Customer Question

I have been living in aurora housing authority/hud housing with my paper proven companion dog since he was 10 mo. Old. Trained at broaview kennels and reg. vet. Apts, shots up to date. He is now 11 plus yrs old. Never 1 complaint. 7 managers have come and gone. The new one is trying to make me get rid of him. He is 12 yrs old and just diagnosed with skin cancer. Her latest excuse for him to be removed is he is over the new weight limits. I have been jumping through hoops, getting physically and emotionally sick over this. She even required I took a photo of him in to b put in my file. I am bi polar, have debilitating fibromyalgia, depression and anxiety, high blood pressure and am on ssdi. Tamara the new manager never even gave me a notice other than verbally.,I complied to every request yet she still wants me to get rid of him! He has been allowed here for over 10 years! He will die quickly if he is separated from me, I will prob. Have a stroke or go into deep depression, can you please help me? Please.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.
The short answer is that there is nothing that the manager can do to force you to legally get rid of your dog. If she tries or continues to harass you, you can sue her and the landlord for unlawful housing discrimination. If the dog is certified as an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), then it would be exempt from any "pet" rules because it is not legally considered a pet.
This is the long answer...
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/service animals, even when a landlord's 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 landlord/management to make an exception to its "no pet" policy so that a tenant with a disability can fully use and enjoy his or her dwelling.
In most housing complexes, so long as the tenant 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/service animal in the apartment.
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 landlord, or fundamentally alter the nature of the housing, the landlord/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/service animals for people with chronic mental illness).
Although the landlord/management is entitled to ask for support/servicing materials which document the need for an emotional support/service animal, federal law does not require the tenant 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 landlord/management must grant the requested accommodation and cannot require any type of certification of the animal.
I would suggest printing out a copy of this and handing it to the landlord/management letting him know that if he attempts to evict based on you keeping an emotional support/service animal, you will file suit for discrimination under the various laws cited above.

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