Fair Housing Laws / Service Animals
Because of our concentrated focus on condo & HOA law, Goede, Adamczyk & DeBoest, PLLC has had the opportunity to represent boards in various disputes involving fair housing laws. These disputes can involve service/emotional support animals, modifications to property in violation of the community documents and other instances where a homeowner is in need of an accommodation due to a disability.
A new phenomenon is “emotional support animals”. These cases are far different and more complex than the service animal (i.e. seeing eye dog). With proper medical documentation, individuals with mental impairments (i.e. depression) may be entitled to keep an “emotional support animal” in a “no pet” community. Our firm has handled several cases involving emotional support animals in “no pet” communities. We have also handled cases involving impermissible modifications to a home to accommodate a disabled family member.
It is important for your board to recognize that these laws do apply to private communities. Qualified individuals are entitled to a reasonable modification of the community covenants and rules if necessary to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their property. With the assistance of legal counsel, your board should adopt a fair housing policy so that it can evaluate each fair housing request in a prompt and consistent fashion. Our firm has developed policies that are acceptable to fair housing authorities and we would be happy to assist your board in this process.