Friday, September 28, 2012

PETS IN CONDOS - Fair Housing Act covers emotional support animal

FLORIDA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS: AVENTURA, Fla. – Sept. 28, 2012 – The Fair Housing Act does more than protect homeowners or renters who use a support-services animal – it also protects residents who need an animal for emotional support.   While the definition of an emotional support animal goes beyond “I love him,” the Fair Housing Act covers residents or potential residents who rely on an emotional support animal.

The issue raises questions from landlords and homeowner associations. An existing rule on pets, for example – such as an additional pet deposit – doesn’t apply to support animals under The Fair Housing Act.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced yesterday they reached a Conciliation Agreement with Point Three East Condominium Association in Aventura, Fla., over the issue. The condo association allegedly refused to allow a resident to keep an emotional support animal, even though the resident provided medical documentation attesting to her need for the accommodation. HUD also found that some of the board members who denied the resident’s request had, or previously had, animals in their units.

Under the agreement, Point East Three Condominium Association will allow the resident to keep her emotional support animal and pay her $18,000. In addition, the condominium association will enact a reasonable accommodation policy and obtain fair housing training for all its board members.

“Condo associations are not exempt from adherence to the Fair Housing Act,” said Carlos Osegueda, HUD’s Region IV director for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Their policies and practices cannot discriminate against persons with disabilities, and HUD will continue to take action anytime we find that they do.”

For more information on emotional support animals protected by The Fair Housing Act, visit the American Bar Association website.

People who believe they are victims of housing discrimination can contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or 1 (800) 927-9275 (TTY).

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