Service/Comfort/Companion Animals

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HOAs and pitbulls as therapy dogs

QUESTION: I live in an HOA, and our board has not been enforcing the provision of our declaration that prohibits pit bulls. On one occasion the board allowed a pit bull because the owner produced an “emotional support animal” certificate.

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Third Circuit: neighbors who criticized condo residents over emotional support dogs must face civil rights suit

In blog posts and comments, two residents of a Virgin Islands condominium complex criticized two other residents who were (in line with rights prescribed to them under federal law) keeping emotional-support dogs despite a no-dog rule in the complex. Among

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Accommodating disabilities: What medical evidence is required?

It is well known that condominiums owe a duty to accommodate persons with disabilities. It is less clear, however, what constitutes adequate proof of a disability. Ambiguous medical notes containing no meaningful details are often the only documentation given to

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Emotional Support Animals in Cooperative Apartment and Condo Communities: What Every Association and Owner Should Know

An emotional support animal (commonly referred to as an “ESA”) is a companion animal (typically a dog or cat) that provides therapeutic benefit to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability. An ESA is not the same thing as

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Can Blogging Violate the Fair Housing Act?–Revock v. Cowpet Bay West Condo Ass’n

This case is a collision between dogs as emotional support animals and a “no dogs” condominium association rule. The civil rights implications of a “no pets” rule are pretty obvious; such a rule can exclude the disabled. At the same

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Defendants lose fight to dismiss Aspen service dog suit (CO)

The defendants in a lawsuit that accuses them of violating federal laws regarding service animals and housing have lost their bid to have the complaint dismissed.  Senior Judge Wiley Y. Daniel’s order issued Wednesday determined allegations against Jack Smith and

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Emotional Support Chickens Are Ruffling Feathers (HI)

A rise in questionable emotional support animals is concerning to condo associations and businesses that must accommodate them.   And the animal owners are offering proof with bogus papers easily obtained online to push back against anyone who challenges them.

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Info on neighbor’s emotional support dog confidential (FL)

Question: We live in a pet-free community. I saw a lady walking a cocker spaniel yesterday on our grounds. I asked our property manager about the pet and was informed this was a new resident that had papers indicating it

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Assistance animals and fair housing: Legislation seeks clarity (VA)

Assistance animals in rental properties and condo units frequently arise as the topic of conversation within common interest communities. In condo associations, the declarations will often contain restrictions on the kinds of animals that unit owners and/or tenants may have

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Attention Boards: your two favorite menaces have combined: Airbnb and Pets!

Whether I am giving a presentation to hundreds of people, teaching a class to dozens of managers or meeting privately with a board of directors, the two issues that have come up without fail over the last few months are:

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A No-Pet Policy Is Not Enough

There is no shortage of scams people use to get a bogus “support pet” into a no-pet building, and there are ways to keep them out. But every co-op and condo board needs to treat every “reasonable accommodation” request seriously.

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Clearing the Air On Companion Animals: What Property Managers Should Know

While the multifamily housing industry has become pet friendly, some furry friends are catching the ire of property managers. Residents who attempt to bring their pets on property under the guise of them being companion animals are leaving some apartment

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Where Do Condo, Homeowner Associations Stand on Emotional Support Animals?

Picture, if you will, a young man named John. He lives in your association-controlled community. John bravely served in the U.S. Army and received the Distinguished Service Cross for his extraordinary heroism in active duty. Upon John’s return home, he

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Attorney advises communities on support animals (FL)

Attorney Joshua Gerstin recently provided Alliance of Delray Residential Associations members with advice on medically necessary pets, making decisions through emails and governing documents, topics that community board of directors will face this year.  “A growing number of advocates feel

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Service animals: Can you ask someone to prove need? (FL)

Realtors representing housing providers, such as a condo association, homeowners association or owner, occasionally find themselves in a delicate situation when a customer or client appears to overstep regarding requests for additional information about a service or assistance animal. Occasionally,

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Aspen service-dog suit settles (CO)

An Aspen woman’s discrimination lawsuit against a condominium association and a property-management firm over her use of a service dog is on the verge of being settled.  Court papers introduced earlier this month indicate plaintiff Natasha MacArthur has reached an

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Airplane Passengers Fall in Love With Emotional Support Duck Accompanying Owner With PTSD

Meet Daniel Turducken Stinkerbutt, aka Daniel the Duck.   He’s an emotional support animal for 37-year-old Carla Fitzgerald, who has been battling post-traumatic stress disorder ever since a bad accident in 2013.  Daniel rose to fame this weekend when he accompanied

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No Pets Allowed? Condo Living With a Dog Can Be Tricky (HI)

Scoring a pet-friendly condo can be difficult–so difficult, in fact, that some people are finding creative ways to skirt the restrictions.  First, we started running into dogs in boutiques, usually in a purse. Then they started popping up in hotels

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What You Need to Know About Service Animals in Your Community

Service dogs can help individuals with a variety of disabilities enjoy a greater quality of life and assist in performing daily tasks. What happens when your association’s policies and the need for a service animal conflict? The short answer is,

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Judge: Aspen service-dog dispute likely headed for trial (CO)

The joint owner of an Aspen condo and a homeowners’ association remain in a legal standoff more than a year after a federal lawsuit was filed over a service-dog dispute.  A pretrial order issued Aug. 9 by U.S. Magistrate Judge

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Associations Should Utilize Proper Vetting Protocols When Considering Service and Emotional Support Animal Requests

Disagreements over service animals have consistently ranked among the most prevalent types of disputes that arise between community associations and their residents. In South Florida alone we have witnessed numerous investigations concerning discrimination claims —many of which still serve as

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HUD Reaches Agreement With Florida Condo Association in Disability Discrimination Case

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today an agreement with Delvista Towers Condominium Association, Inc., of Aventura, Florida, and its property management company, resolving allegations of housing discrimination against residents with disabilities. HUD claimed the condo

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Companion Pets and Service Animals: How Do You Determine a Reasonable Accommodation?

Probably the biggest point of tension for any condo, HOA or co-op board is a pet ban. Enacting one can be a heated affair, leading to fights and arguments throughout the building community, but maintaining a ban on pets can

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Home Owners Associations: Beware of the Fair Housing Act When Enforcing Pet Prohibitions and Restrictions

Associations have restrictions that either prohibit or limit the number, size, and type of pets that can be kept within the community. In general, as long as a restriction prohibiting or limiting pets is clearly drafted, the North Carolina courts

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Who Let the Dogs Out?

Many condominium and community associations are receiving increasingly frequent requests from residents to keep dogs and other “assistance animals” in communities that do not allow pets. Where pets are allowed, the requests are often for dogs that are much larger

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A large ‘companion’ dog in the middle of the fight between a tenant and a condo board

A man with incurable cancer is fighting to keep his dog at his Ottawa condo. The condo board says the large dog is against the rules and given him until the end of June to get rid of the dog

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Judicial Follies: Companion fish

Some years ago, the California Supreme Court decided a case involving a woman who was forced to give up her two house cats to comply with rules adopted by her condominium association that prohibited pet ownership. Not all pet ownership,

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Claiming a pet is a service animal is risky

Service animals may travel anywhere their handler goes in public, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The same protection is not afforded for therapy dogs and emotional support animals (companion pets), whose certifications are not legally required.    Read

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HUD’S Fair Housing Decision Upheld by First Circuit Court of Appeals

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has won an important Fair Housing Act victory in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The decision upheld a Final Order of the Secretary

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The Rules for Allowing Pets in ‘No-Pet’ Buildings

When determining whether an owner’s pet qualifies for admittance in a “no-pet” building, cooperatives and condominiums must be extremely careful to follow the federal, state, and city fair housing laws governing how far a board can go when investigating and

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It Just Got a Little Tougher to Be Pet-Free

A service founded by Eisenstein called the Emotional Support Animal Center helps pet lovers locate a mental health professional who, for a $150 fee, will assess them and provide a letter that can then be presented to property management companies,

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Memo clarifies ADA

Q: We live in a villa home. Our community has a private golf course and similar recreational facilities. Our local association has a “no pet rule.” We are told that the ADA requires us to permit pets even if we

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Emotional Assistance Animal Bill Killed on Party Line Vote (CO)

House Bill 16-1201 (“HB 1201”), which was introduced by Representative Yeulin Willett (R-Grand Junction) to address a gaping loophole used by folks to keep a dog in HOAs which ban them, was killed by the Democrats in the House Health,

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Condos turning into animal farms over abuse of law

Question: My 55-plus condo community of 220-plus units has a “no dog” policy. Within the last two years people with service animals are using disability statutes to preempt this policy that has been in place for years.  Read the Q&A………….

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Can a Python Be an Emotional Support Animal?

Can snakes, the animal commonly known for instilling panic upon sight, actually help to ease anxiety? According to snake owner Darla McGinnis, they can.  WCVB-Channel 5 (ABC) in Boston recently covered a story about McGinnis and her fight with the

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Emotional Assistance Animal Legislation Introduced (CO)

House Bill 16-1201 has been introduced and would require licensed medical professionals to meet with a patient and determine the need for emotional support animals. These licensed professionals include physicians, physician assistants, anesthesiologist assistants, nurses, psychologists, social workers, marriage and

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Emotional Assistance Animal Bill Introduced (CO)

Representative Yeulin Willett (R-Grand Junction) has introduced House Bill 16-1201 (“HB 1201”) regarding how licensed professionals in Colorado must approach providing recommendations for emotional support animals (also commonly referred to as “emotional assistance animals” and “companion animals”) under the Colorado

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It Is Possible to Ban Bogus Support Dogs (NY)

When the co-op board first learned about the shareholder’s dog – kept in defiance of a long-time pet prohibition – they also learned that the dog was purportedly a “therapy dog,” a trusted companion that a resident claims is vital

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Legal Update: Recent Statutory Changes Impacting Service Animals in Michigan

On October 20, 2015, Governor Rick Snyder signed into law Senate Bills 298 and 299 and House Bills 4521 and 4527, which became effective January 18, 2016. The Bills updated rules on the use of service animals in places of

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Turkeys Really Do Fly — In Planes!

The myth that turkeys can’t fly was proven untrue after it was discovered that turkeys can actually soar up to 55 feet in the air. For longer flights, however, they fly like the rest of us – in coach or

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When it’s okay to play pet detective in condos

The instances of condo residents improperly using “medical reasons” to escape the enforcement of pet restrictions found in condo declarations or rules is on the rise.  On one hand, many property managers and boards of directors are fearful of investigating

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Disabled Woman Sues Aventura (FL) Condo Over Service Dog Access

An African-American woman who was disabled by seizures is suing her Aventura condominium association for discriminating against her as she fought to keep a service dog ironically named Harmony.    Read the article………….

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Building Safety for Everyone: Emergency Preparation Includes Residents with Special Needs

New England is home to more than three million seniors age 60 and older, and about one in four suffers some type of physical impairment. When you factor in a climate prone to blizzards and heavy snow storms, a disaster

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The Elephant (or Should I say “Big Dog”) in the Room (HOA) – We Should Talk About It

“Maybe in a future newsletter you could mention how to handle new or old owners about being ADA and what the requirements are. Seems a lot of new owners young and old are bring in large service dogs about 80lbs and say

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Federal lawsuit against Gold Coast (IL) condo may continue, judge rules

A hearing impaired unit owner’s lawsuit against a Gold Coast condominium association – accused of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation – may continue, a federal judge has ruled.  Read the article…………

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Quick Tips for Accommodating Veterans and Their Service Animals in Your Community

Each November 11, we honor those who have served our country with a national day of remembrance and thanks, Veteran’s Day. In 2015 there were more than 19 million Veterans in the United States. Of this group of heroes, more

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Service Animals and HOA Regulations

Many HOAs have regulations regarding pets within the community. Some may prohibit pets completely, and others have limitations on the type and size of the pet. However, HOAs with pet regulations may need to change their rules for service animals.

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HOA HOMEFRONT: Rules vague over ‘comfort animals’

Q. Dear Kelly: Since I live in a condo, I am interested in service dogs and “therapy” dogs. Why should some persons have rights in a building’s common areas that other residents with pets do not have? For example, if

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HOAs, Pets, and Assistance Animals

We all know someone whose dog or cat is much more than just a pet. Well, for purposes of the Fair Housing Act, they may be right. Community associations must be careful as they adopt rules and regulations regarding animal

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