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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 10238
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing HOAs, homeowners, businesses and others in real estate matters.
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I need help addressing a notice from the condo association

Customer Question

I need help addressing a notice from the condo association regarding my rights to use a regular elevator with my emotional support animal.
Today I received a letter from my condo association (signed by the board of directors) stating that they have received many complaints from other residents regarding the use of regular passenger elevators to take my "pet" in/out of the building. The letter is requesting that I refrain using the regular elevators to take the pet in/out and take the service elevator instead. I believe I am being singled out and I would like to understand how best to address this issue. It is extremely inconvenient for me to use the service elevator when I'm with my dog. It is very far away and runs very infrequently – especially when used by construction cleaning and delivery crews.
First, you should know that my building is a dog friendly building – allowing to keep dogs – under 20 lbs. Although my dog is a larger dog – a boxer, weighing 50lbs, she is a legally prescribed emotional support animal. When I moved into the building I submitted paperwork from my psychiatrist and received an exception from the board of directors allowing me to keep my larger emotional support animal in my condo. I am also aware of at least two other larger size dogs in my building. Second, my dog is very friendly, very well trained, does not touch anyone, does not bark and has never acted aggressively against any person. Before entering an elevator, if there are people there already, I always ask if it’s ok to come in with my dog and will not enter if anyone objects.
I believe the board I reacting to - I assume - numerous complaints from ONE resident in the building who has had a bad experience with a boxer dog (not mine) previously and is trying to have my dog banned from the building – or at least to make it very inconvenient for me to keep my dog. Due to her complaints – I feel I’m being singled out. What is my best way to address this issue? I understand that the association cannot force me to get rid of the dog – since she is an emotional support animal prescribed to me – however, can they single me out because someone is making false accusations? The complaining resident claims that she is afraid of my dog – however, she walks into the elevator when I’m there with my dog – not the other way around. As she walks in she begins to complain that I should not be there with my dog. She also stated (I’m sure to the board as well) that I should muzzle my dog – which is completely unsubstantiated. Is there anything I can do legally to her to make her stop this nonsense?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 11 months ago.

Dear Customer,

You may want to consider contacting your local legal aid office - when a board of directors has reached this level, often the best response is getting a lawyer or law firm to write a letter on your behalf.

The legal support on your side is the Fair Housing Act (you can find details on how this affects Emotional Support Animals in Condo living here: https://www.animallaw.info/article/faqs-emotional-support-animals#s4), and you can consider filing a complaint with the US DOJ regarding the matter - but in most cases you can get the Board to back down with a well worded letter from a local attorney.

While the board does not have to accommodate an aggressive or dangerous dog (one that has a history of acting out), or one that is a nuisance (even if the dog is otherwise identified as an emotional support dog), none of this appears applicable to your situation - you simply have a condo association with a "squeaky wheel" that is currently receiving notice from the board. I would recommend contacting local attorneys to push back - but if this is out of the question, you can always do so yourself (the link above should provide sufficient information to help you - the Board cannot force you to take back elevators etc. and claim that they are making "reasonable accomodations").