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Dogs Can Be Prescriptive Medicine - How Should a Condo Association Handle This?

“No dogs allowed” is the mantra for many condominiums, and residents who sneak in lap dogs are subject to punishment. But what if a dog is specifically ‘ordered’ by a physician to aid with the resident’s mental health? What’s a condo association to do?

Recently, a Florida federal court claimed a condominium association violated federal law when it failed to give a temporary accommodation to a resident with an animal needed for the health and emotional support of the resident. In the case cited, the condo did allow smaller dogs under 25 lbs., but when the owner brought in a larger dog the association demanded the dog be removed.

The owner provided a doctor’s note prescribing the dog to help relieve Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but the association requested additional information about the owner’s mental health and treatments. And that’s when the lawsuit began. The owners sued the Association, alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act.

Ultimately, the court ruled in favor of the condo (and dog) owner, claiming that the Association violated the Fair Housing Act when it requested further information. The Court stated that the Association never gave a “temporary exemption” to the owner during its investigation, and demanded that he remove the dog in 30 days unless he could provide the requested information.

The dog stays.

“Associations should be aware of that they are not compelled to accommodate every request for support animals but should offer temporary exemption during investigation,” says Partner Joshua D. Krut, Chair of WSH's Community Association, Club and Resort Group. “If the exemption is made permanent, the condo owner must comply with the appropriate rules and restriction that are then associated with pet ownership. Associations have every right to enforce those rules, even if they pertain to only one resident.”

Categories: Condominium AssociationsHomeowners' Associations
Tags: Joshua D. KrutFort Lauderdale Condominium Association AttorneysMiami Condominium Association AttorneysSouth Florida Condominium Association AttorneysFort Lauderdale Homeowners' Association AttorneysMiami Homeowners' Association AttorneysSouth Florida Homeowners' Association AttorneysFlorida Community Association LawFlorida Condo Association Law
Author(s): Joshua D. Krut