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I rent in a condo community where only owners are allowed to…

I rent in a condo...
I rent in a condo community where only owners are allowed to own dogs as governed by the association by-laws. I provided proof to the board, in writing, of the medical necessity for my dog. I am disabled and on SSD. The landloard has given me permission to have the dog in my unit, but the condo association responded by instituing a fine of $300.00 per month. In addition, they have banned me from the use of common areas, such as the pool and sunbathing area. I have also been harrased on several occasions by the former president of the board and some of the current members because of the dog living with me. I also presented a training report and a veterinanian's assesment of the dog's behavior; still the fine remains as does the descriminatory comments and treatment. How should I proceed with this situation?
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Answered in 28 minutes by:
12/1/2010
Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 40,091
Experience: 17 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
Verified

Hello,

 

The condo board is violating federal law if they are discriminating against you based on the service animal.

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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 landlord 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.

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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 animal in the apartment.

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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 landlord, or fundamentally alter the nature of the housing, the landlord 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).

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Although the landlord is entitled to ask for supporting materials which document the need for an emotional support 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).

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Although this refers to landlords, it can be implied to extend to any type of organization that is attempting to prevent you from having a service animal present. I would suggest notifying the board that they are violating The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and that you will file suit for discrimination if they continue their actions.

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They obviously do not know the law on this topic and may need a little "education" to make them aware of their discriminatory actions.

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thanks

Barrister

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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 40,091
Experience: 17 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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