Polly wants a Crack at It?

Cooperatives ban fur bearing animals for many reasons including health, safety and welfare of the members. On the surface, pets are cute, fuzzy and adorable. They cuddle with you and alert you to trouble. They provide the conversations a lot of us crave because they cannot talk back. For all that cute fuzziness however, some pet owners just do not get it when it comes to pet care in a housing community making it necessary to limit types of pets and or all out banning pets.

Undaunted by leash laws, you will see dogs running about. Sometimes you even get to see more than you could have hoped and other times, you step in it. Cats you would believe are more acceptable, however, pet owners that neglect to keep kitty’s box clean give kitty a reason to find better places relieve himself. Having had the opportunity to inspect an apartment unit at a
location that permitted cats and not dogs, I immediately realized that it was going to take more than the $150.00 pet deposit fee to rent that unit again. One bad apple spoils the whole basket and thus the no pets rule is born.

Housing communities, when pressed to permit an animal as an accommodation, immediately go to the no pets rules. Without guidance of counsel however, this could be a costly path. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), emotional support animals are not addressed in the same way as service animals. The ADA requires that an animal be individually trained to perform one or more tasks that mitigate the disability of the disabled owner in order for that owner to have a protected right to be accompanied by that animal in public places. With this exclusion on a “companion” pet, there is no reason to give an accommodation, but HUD and the Fair Housing Amendments Act dictates otherwise.

If a doctor prescribes the presence of a pet as necessary for the treatment plan of a person who is substantially limited in their ability to function by mental illness, the pet owner may request a change in rules, policies, practices, or services, such as "no pets" rules to permit them to keep the pet as an emotional support animal. Additionally they have to show that this accommodation is
necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy their dwelling.

When faced with a request for a companion animal ask for enough information to verify the request is made by a person suffering from a disability with a need for the companion animal. Take the information and forward it to your attorney. He or she will guide you with the process in determining if criteria is met. If the accommodation is made, remember that demonstrated need for the animal does not preclude action if the animal becomes unruly or disruptive, unclean or unhealthy and so much so that it poses a health risk to the community. You are entitled to require proper vaccination and licensing of the animal as well. Remember it is an accommodation only and not a waiver of your rights to ensure certain rules are followed. If you are ever in doubt, contact your attorney to see what steps should be taken