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ADA, FHA, and HOAs And Service Animals: Florida Association Sued for housing discrimination

A short while ago we wrote a blog piece on the issues relating to community associations regulating service animals. In that blog we noted that the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”)  “permits individuals with disabilities to keep an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation when there are limitations imposed by the homeowner or condominium association on animals and pets.”  In Broward County, Florida, that county’s Civil Rights Division filed suit against a condominium association for violating the FHA by refusing to consider a person’s request for an “emotional servant animal,” a chihuahua.

In the lawsuit, the County alleges that the resident

The association refused to permit the resident to keep the chihuahua because of its no-pet policy.

As we suggested in our blog, your homeowners association could have legal problems denying a reasonable request that complies with the FHA unless the association can show that

In this Broward County case, the association now faces the costs of litigation and the poor publicity that it brings. We repeat our admonition for HOAs: for those requests that are difficult or cause concern to the association, the association should consult an experienced homeowner association law firm immediately rather than risk any delays that may result in a Fair Housing complaint.

UPDATE: This case settled in April, 2012. The dismissal order did not indicate how the parties resolved the matter. Nonetheless, each party spent over a year in litigation, and agreed to pay their own attorneys’ fees.

Tarley Robinson, PLC, Attorneys and Counsellors at Law

Williamsburg, Virginia

 

 

 

 

John Tarley

 

 

 

 

 

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John Tarley

John is the firm's managing partner and chairs the firm's small business, zoning, and litigation practice areas.

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