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Subject: ESA comfort dog
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Author Messages
LisaD6
(Connecticut)

Posts:55


04/20/2019 9:14 PM  
A unit owner recently rented to a tenant. A dog shows up. The unit owner knows all dogs have to go through the board that are over 25 pounds. We just had a meeting about only accepting under 25 pounds.Our rules protects us with 25 pounds or less. Here's what happened. A dog showed up day of tenant moving into the unit. I have management question this 75 pound dog that has showed up and the board knows nothing about it. unit owners response was. oh it is a comfort dog They put it on the Rental agreement. and I cant legally ask for the proof. So she let the dog show up. Now we are asking to see the proof. And I have a sneaky guess it will be one of those internet drs that gives them the paper work. IF it is dated after the date of them moving in then what. OR they dont have the drs note on a letter head. Anyone else go through this. And the sour point of all this the unit owner is on the board. HELP. I am the president. AGHGH... I fully understand if this is a true comfort dog with proof dated before the renting we have to honor it. Has the laws changed yet. Last year HUD was working on getting rid of the internet drs as proof. And I am in a state that does not have a law against fraudulent documentation on this topic.
RoyalP
(South Carolina)

Posts:732


04/21/2019 6:00 AM  
There is no such thing as a 'comfort dog, or any other 'comfort' animal.

There ARE 'companion emotional support animals' which serve medical purposes.

They require 'reasonable accommodation' but the housing provider may require medical documentation.

Said documentation will state that because of emotional illness the animal is necessary to allow the owner to function in society (paraphrased).

You may not question the validity of said document beyond checking its' validity and/or the signers medical qualification.

The document must be issued by a 'licensed medical professional'.

sample HUD letter:


Sample letter for Companion Animal


As per HUD https://view.officeapps.live.com/op/view.aspx?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.hud.gov%2Fsites%2Fdocuments%2FDOC_7399.DOC



DATE

NAME OF PROFESSIONAL (therapist, physician, psychiatrist, rehabilitation counselor)
ADDRESS

Dear [HOUSING AUTHROITY/LANDLORD]:

[NAME OF TENANT] is my patient, and has been under my care since [DATE]. I am intimately familiar with his/her history and with the functional limitations imposed by his/her disability. He/She meets the definition of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Due to mental illness, [FIRST NAME] has certain limitations regarding [SOCIAL INTERACTION/COPING WITH STRESS/ANXIETY, ETC]. In order to help alleviate these difficulties, and to enhance his/her ability to live independently and to fully use and enjoy the dwelling unit you own and/or administer, I am prescribing an emotional support animal that will assist [FIRST NAME] in coping with his/her disability.

I am familiar with the voluminous professional literature concerning the therapeutic benefits of assistance animals for people with disabilities such as that experienced by [FIRST NAME]. Upon request, I will share citations to relevant studies, and would be happy to answer other questions you may have concerning my recommendation that [FULL NAME OF TENANT] have an emotional support animal. Should you have additional question, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Signature

[NAME OF PROFESSIONAL]


paragraph 2 is the 'stickler'
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3231


04/21/2019 7:09 AM  
If there is a fine per day in your bylaws, start sending out the fines. Send it to the owner and mail a copy to the tenant.


Let them prove it to you they have a legal right to have it. The lease agreement made between the tenant and landlord means nothing to the HOA.
BobB31
(Florida)

Posts:72


04/21/2019 7:20 AM  
Posted By SteveM9 on 04/21/2019 7:09 AM
If there is a fine per day in your bylaws, start sending out the fines. Send it to the owner and mail a copy to the tenant.


Let them prove it to you they have a legal right to have it. The lease agreement made between the tenant and landlord means nothing to the HOA.



Wouldn't that open the door for a FHA lawsuit? I would think the correct way would be to ask for proof first, and if it is not forthcoming, then start the fining process.
RoyalP
(South Carolina)

Posts:732


04/21/2019 8:09 AM  
NO

The correct way would have been for the member to ask for the 'reasonable accommodation' FIRST.
JeffT2
(Iowa)

Posts:465


04/21/2019 9:13 AM  
Is the following approach legal and reasonable?

Inform the landlord and tenant that you will be sending out the following letter to all owners and other tenants. It may put some pressure on the tenant.

Dear owners and residents,

You may have noticed a dog on our property and we wanted to explain the situation.

The tenant [NAME] of unit X has a mental illness, has functional limitations, is under the care of a professional, and has [VERY RECENTLY] been prescribed an emotional support animal that will assist [NAME] in coping with his/her disability.

Due to federal law this emotional support animal is permitted at our property.

We remind you that for the rest of us, our governing documents contain the following:

"... No cats, dogs or other pets are permitted on the Property... or under 25 pounds ... or whatever your docs say ... "

Sincerely,

Board of ...
SharonW3
(North Carolina)

Posts:23


04/21/2019 9:20 AM  
Been there, done that. The tenant has a dog which is a forbidden breed per our docs and our legal team advises us not to "rock the boat". Litigation is expensive,and unfortunately, there's a lawyer & news reporter always ready to take on an HOA. Since the renter is a first responder, we have stepped lightly in dealing with the question of authenticity of the animal/owner's certification provided. Hopefully there will be no incidents or violations and the tenant will move out. In the meantime, we are vigilant from the corner we've been painted in to.
BobB31
(Florida)

Posts:72


04/21/2019 9:51 AM  
Posted By RoyalP on 04/21/2019 8:09 AM
NO

The correct way would have been for the member to ask for the 'reasonable accommodation' FIRST.



Ah, I didn't know that.
From ESA FAQ
If a person with a disability needs to use an assistance animal, he or she must first make the request to his or her housing provider or housing board. HUD says that a person seeking the accommodation must submit reliable documentation of the disability and disability-related need for the assistance animal if the disability is not known or readily-apparent. This documentation is usually a letter from a medical doctor or treating therapist who can establish the disability and need for the assistance animal. The housing provider may not ask for access to medical records or unreasonably delay the request.




Does the person needing the ESA relinquish any rights due to failure to do this? The FAQ failed to cover this.
RoyalP
(South Carolina)

Posts:732


04/21/2019 10:04 AM  
They do not lose any 'rights'.

They lose the 'reasonable accommodation' and the ability to violate the covenant.

They regain the 'reasonable accommodation' upon submission of the REQUIRED documentation.

The fine(s) against the actual HOA member will stand prior to the date documentation is supplied.


BobB31
(Florida)

Posts:72


04/21/2019 10:06 AM  
OK, that makes sense.
RoyalP
(South Carolina)

Posts:732


04/21/2019 10:14 AM  
Posted By JeffT2 on 04/21/2019 9:13 AM
Is the following approach legal and reasonable?

Inform the landlord and tenant that you will be sending out the following letter to all owners and other tenants. It may put some pressure on the tenant.

Dear owners and residents,

You may have noticed a dog on our property and we wanted to explain the situation.

The tenant [NAME] of unit X has a mental illness, has functional limitations, is under the care of a professional, and has [VERY RECENTLY] been prescribed an emotional support animal that will assist [NAME] in coping with his/her disability.

Due to federal law this emotional support animal is permitted at our property.

We remind you that for the rest of us, our governing documents contain the following:

"... No cats, dogs or other pets are permitted on the Property... or under 25 pounds ... or whatever your docs say ... "

Sincerely,

Board of ...




Do not disclose HIPA information nor mention specific names.

Change bold to:

A person having a mental illness, having functional limitations, under the care of a professional, and having been prescribed an emotional support animal that will assist in coping with their disability has been granted, by law, a reasonable accommodation from any pet restriction within the Covenants or other 'governing documents'.
Said person's disability has been verified by the Board of Directors as per submitted medical documentation.

{Iron Clad and Bullet-Proof}


That will be zero and 00/100 dollars please.


JeffT2
(Iowa)

Posts:465


04/21/2019 10:35 AM  
Posted By RoyalP on 04/21/2019 10:14 AM


That will be zero and 00/100 dollars please.




Sounds good to me, thank you

LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:680


04/21/2019 10:51 AM  
Posted By JeffT2 on 04/21/2019 9:13 AM
Is the following approach legal and reasonable?

Inform the landlord and tenant that you will be sending out the following letter to all owners and other tenants. It may put some pressure on the tenant.

Dear owners and residents,

You may have noticed a dog on our property and we wanted to explain the situation.

The tenant [NAME] of unit X has a mental illness, has functional limitations, is under the care of a professional, and has [VERY RECENTLY] been prescribed an emotional support animal that will assist [NAME] in coping with his/her disability.

Due to federal law this emotional support animal is permitted at our property.

We remind you that for the rest of us, our governing documents contain the following:

"... No cats, dogs or other pets are permitted on the Property... or under 25 pounds ... or whatever your docs say ... "

Sincerely,

Board of ...





You send out a letter like this and you will get the caca sued out of you.
LisaD6
(Connecticut)

Posts:55


04/21/2019 11:28 AM  
The owner will be informed that the tenant needs to come up with the documentation. and she will be talked too. As for the letter to all the unit owners ah no I believe that would be a lawsuit waiting to hang my butt.. Reason for post I wanted to see what other condos have run into this. I see one has and it doesnt look promising for us. This pull a letter off the internet by a dr. that never sees you has to stop.. This is insane. Seeing a dr. around this area handing in a letter makes sense to me.
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3231


04/21/2019 1:15 PM  

Do not disclose HIPA information nor mention specific names.


Just to be clear, a HOA is not a HIPAA covered entity and is NOT required to obey HIPAA privacy and security laws.

That said.....I dont think a letter like this would be advisable. I would provide any evidence that the renter provided if anyone complained, but I wouldn't make up my own documents regarding it.
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3231


04/21/2019 1:22 PM  
Since the renter is a first responder, we have stepped lightly in dealing with the question of authenticity of the animal/owner's certification provided.


Interesting..... I would hold a first responder to a higher standard. I would definitely validate the authenticity of the information on the letter. The medical info provided in their letter of proof could also lead to their loss of certification to be a first responder.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1209


04/21/2019 1:25 PM  
Slippery slope - push back hard on this now and it will be resolved forever.

Allowing this sort of thing will set the new precedent ...
SharonW3
(North Carolina)

Posts:23


04/21/2019 2:24 PM  
I believe his credibility was not as questionable because he is a fireman. Second issue is the breed being forbidden. We are cautiously watching the situation. Sometimes I really question the legal advice!
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1209


04/21/2019 4:37 PM  
Cautiously watching?

Does not sound like a resolution plan.

You’re just setting a precedent.
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3231


04/21/2019 6:52 PM  
Posted By SharonW3 on 04/21/2019 2:24 PM
I believe his credibility was not as questionable because he is a fireman.


Just the opposite. When someone who has a public trust position lies, its much worse.


Second issue is the breed being forbidden. We are cautiously watching the situation. Sometimes I really question the legal advice!


Its very likely your HOA insurance has that breed on a forbidden list as well. If they knew, your insurance would likely be dropped.
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