In the past two months we have been consulted on two situations involving emotional support animals. Be it known that this is a topic addressed by the Fair Housing Act. In order to qualify the resident must satisfy certain requirements. They are as follows:
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 symptoms or effects of an existing disability. Such documentation is sufficient if it establishes that an individual has a disability and that the animal in question will provide some type of disability-related assistance or emotional support.
The definition of disability in the Fair Housing Act is very broad and takes into consideration mental disorders including depression. This law applies even if your documents or rules ban pets. If the resident has the necessary certificate then you must allow the pet. Recently in Puerto Rico a condominium association was ordered to pay $20,000 in damages and a $16,000 civil penalty for refusing to allow a resident with disability to keep his pet. The resident moved from the community after the board refused to allow the resident to keep his pet. After moving he learned that his rights had been violated. He brought suit against the association and prevailed. Managers and all boards should be educated on the Fair Housing Act’s requirements. We offer a short mini-seminar on Fair Housing. Should you be interested please give us a call.