by Dan Tiernan, COO, Campbell Property Management
Seeing “service animals” and “assistance animals” out and about in communities is not an uncommon sight. However, in some communities, there is a “no pet rule.” Many people are wondering, “Are animals allowed in these communities?”
HUD, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, recently released a memorandum attempting to clarify confusion surrounding the difference between ADA’s, Americans with Disabilities Act, and FHA’s, Fair Housing Act, laws regarding service and assistance animals and their definitions. You can view the official memorandum by clicking here.
Joseph Adams of Becker and Poliakoff, wrote a great blog post in the Florida Condo and HOA Law Blog to help clarify the memo. You can read the blog by clicking here. In the blog, Joseph states that “under HUD’s interpretation of the law, an “assistance animal” (as opposed to a “service animal”) need not be specifically trained to perform work or specific tasks. “Assistance animals” include “emotional support animals.” When an association receives a request for a “reasonable accommodation” under the FHA (usually the waiver of a pet restriction), the association is obligated to provide the accommodation if it is “reasonable”, if the person requesting the accommodation suffers from a “disability”, and if the accommodation will ameliorate the disability.” Disabilities are defined in the law as physical or mental impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities.
The recent HUD memo permits an association to ask the individuals who are seeking emotional support animals to provide documentation from a physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional that the animal provides emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified systems of an existing disability.
Do you live in a community with a “no pet rule” that is getting flooded with requests for “assistance animals”? Tell us your story in the comment section below.