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LawTalk, Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 34929
Experience:  I have 30 years legal experience. Additionally, in CA I held a Real Estate Broker's license.
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HOA is trying to make me get rid of my dog. It sometimes barks

Customer Question

HOA is trying to make me get rid of my dog. It sometimes barks and lunges at some of the residents - I have been working to correct that behavior. With others, she is pretty mellow and sweet. I'm a renter, my landlord owns the condo unit I live in. I have obtained a letter from my psychiatrist stating that my dog is an emotional support animal. The HOA is considered a private club.
I have also submitted a letter to HOA from the Humane society stating that her barking is fear based anxiety (the dog is a rescue bull terrier ***** ***** mix) with a detailed explanation of what it is. I also booked a session with a private trainer to address the behavior. The private trainer said the same thing - she is a fearful and anxious dog, but not aggressive - her barking and lunging are behaviors that she knows will work to make whatever the object or person she fears go away - this is what we are working on now - making her conquer her fears.
The HOA states that I violated pet rules pertaining to excessive barking and aggression - the rules are pretty vague - there is no specific or measurable things that define barking or aggression - so it's open to broad interpretation by non-experts.
Here is the verbiage and relevant rules with their numbers:
11. No pet shall be allowed to become a nuisance or to create any unreasonable disturbance. Examples of nuisance behavior for the purposes of this paragraph include but are not limited to excessive crying, excessive barking, or aggressive conduct toward other animals or people.
12. Any pet causing or creating unreasonable disturbance or nuisance may be required to be permanently removed from the unit and the Association, after a hearing with the Board of Directors.
16. This rule is subject to all applicable disability laws.
Are there any exceptions to the ESA laws where they can force me to get rid of my dog? Should I retain an attorney to handle all communications with the board going forward? I had the ESA letter from my mental health professional for about 6 months now, but I didn't bring it up to the HOA board hoping to resolve it without the need for a hearing. I have had the dog for 2 and a half years. I live in San Mateo, CA
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  LawTalk replied 5 months ago.
Good morning,I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today. I have been a CA licensed attorney for more than 30 years, and I handle real estate law and discrimination law issues. While the rules regarding dogs may not be written in legalese so as to provide a clearer interpretation, the rules also are far from being ambiguous and unfortunately the barking and lunging will be deemed aggression regardless of the spin that your dog trainer puts on her behavior. And the fact that she is an emotional support animal will not prevent the HOA from acting either. Disability laws only provide that you are entitle to a comfort animal, not that you may have a comfort animal that is aggressive or creates a nuisance. And while agree that to a certain extent, that aggression and nuisance are something in the eye of the beholder, I seriously doubt that any judge would deem a barking and lunging dog as not a nuisance or aggressive. Under the law, a landlord or HOA, pursuant to the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, requires that they make a reasonable accommodation to their policies and allow you to have an emotional support animal. However, the law does allow even such limitations as those limiting your animal based on species, breed, and/or weight and size policies. So it is quite allowable for the HOA to also place limits on animals deemed to be aggressive or which cause a disturbance on a regular basis. I am sorry. You may reply back to me using the Reply link and I will be happy to continue to assist you until I am able to address your concerns, to your satisfaction.I hope that I have been able to fully answer your question. As I am not an employee of JustAnswer, please be so kind as to rate my service to you. That is the only way I am compensated for assisting you. Thank you in advance.I wish you and yours the best in 2016,Doug
Expert:  LawTalk replied 5 months ago.
Good morning, This seems like a very crucial matter for you, and your questions and issues suggest that an in-depth conversation might best suit your needs. If you are interested, for a very nominal charge I can offer you a private phone conference as opposed to continuing in this question and answer thread which is searchable and viewable by the public.If I have already provided you with the information you asked for, would you please now rate my service to you so I can be compensated for assisting you?Thanks in advance,Doug

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