Can a Condo Association Deny an Emotional Support Animal?

[JULY 2020 UPDATE] HOA rejected your Emotional Support Animal?

Now, before we begin, let’s disclose we’re not lawyers, fair housing experts, or the such. We do not accept any liability for the following information. Buyer beware.

Recently, a client sent along their HOA agreement, asking us for our opinion on its contents. That agreement, an eight-page document, was a typical example of what comes out of a California condo association.

Condo Pet Policy Enforcement Gone Wrong

In other words, the HOA agreement violated Federal Law left and right.

Problem: The HOA asks for access to a medical professional and medical documentation.

HOA Document:

  • provide completed copies of the Affidavit of Treating Physician.
  • after reviewing the submitted request form.
  • a physician may provide verification of the disability/handicap through the use of the Association’s form Affidavit of Treating Physician.
  • which may include medical records evidencing dates of diagnosis and treatment for the disability/handicap

FHAct ([see FHEO-2013-01, April 25, 2013]) states:

“A housing provider also may not ask an applicant or tenant to provide access to medical records or medical providers or provide detailed or extensive information or documentation of a person’s physical or mental impairments.”

Problem: The HOA requires ‘certification’ or training.

HOA Document: all certifications or training the animal possesses and to maintain an identification tag and service animal vest on the animal.

FHAct ([see FHEO Notice FHEO-2013-01, April 25, 2013]) states:

“for the purposes of reasonable accommodation requests, neither the FHAct nor Section 504 requires an assistance animal to be individually trained or certified.”

Problem: The HOA cannot limit where you take your ESA.

HOA Document: The emotional support/service animal is required to be walked in certain designated areas which may differ depending on the location of the unit and the owner’s disability/handicap. If the request is granted, the Association will provide you with the designated area for walking the animal.

FHAct ([FHEO-2013-01, April 25, 2013] p. 3) states:

“…to permit a person with a disability to live with and use an assistance animal(s) in all areas of the premises where persons are normally allowed to go…”

Emotional Support Animal Letter of Recommendation

As a disabled person requiring an assistance animal, you are entitled to an equal opportunity to use and enjoy any dwelling you qualify for, and our assessment provided should help secure those housing rights.

If your fair housing rights are threatened, or the assessment we’ve provided is wrongfully rejected by your landlord, property manager, or housing provider, there are additional steps that can be taken to help you (contact a licensed attorney for more information).

Need More Information?

An emotional support animal is a type of assistance animal that is recognized as a “reasonable accommodation” for a person with a disability under the federal Fair Housing Act.

Getting qualified for an assistance animal is as simple as 1-2-3.

1: Place an Order.

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2. Complete an Assessment.

After you place an order, you'll complete our proprietary HIPAA-compliant comprehensive online assessment.

3: Engage With an Expert.

Finally, you'll engage in therapeutic care with a local, licensed health care provider via secured video technology

Being Approved.

An emotional support animal is a type of assistance animal that is recognized as a “reasonable accommodation” for a person with a disability under the federal Fair Housing Act. An emotional support animal is not a pet. An emotional support animal is a companion animal that provides therapeutic benefit to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability.

New HUD Guidelines.

HUD's new rules are an update to the Fair Housing Act (FHA) that sought to equalize the ability of people with disabilities to enjoy housing. Under the law, housing providers had to exempt those with disabilities from “no pet” rules and pet fees. But some of the gaps in the rules have been abused by those simply trying to bypass pet rules and fees. Others who are providing the letters have exploited uneducated consumers To comply, Housing Pro 2020 provides multiple clinical sessions between client and an in-state licensed provider.

Therapeutic Relationship Required.

Documentation submitted in support of an assistance animal request must come from a person who has a “therapeutic relationship” with the resident seeking the accommodation. A therapeutic relationship is “the provision of medical care, program care, or personal care services, in good faith, for and with actual knowledge of, an individual’s disability and that individual's disability-related need for an assistance animal by:

  1. a physician or other medical professional;
  2. a mental health service provider; or
  3. a non-medical service agency or reliable third party who is in a position to know about the individual's disability.”

Because a therapeutic relationship requires that care services be provided, in good faith, for an individual’s disability, documentation submitted on the basis of a single visit to a health care provider solely to obtain a “doctor’s note” will generally not be legally sufficient.

Emotional support animal letter for travel.

An emotional support animal provides comfort to support a customer’s diagnosed mental or emotional disorder. Emotional support animals need not have specific training for that function. All must be trained to behave appropriately in a public setting. Acceptable ESAD Int'l emotional support animals are limited to dogs and cats. Your animal must behave appropriately in a public environment. If your 10-pound Chihuahua acts like Cujo, running around the airport on attack mode, the "best ESA letter in the world" won't matter. To qualify, an individual must have a health professional verify:

  • A mental health-related disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition (DSM IV).
  • A need for the emotional support or psychiatric service animal to remedy the disability’s effects during air travel and activity at your destination

The passenger/client must be currently under the care and treatment of a licensed professional. To comply, Travel Pro 2020 provides a clinical session between client and an in-state licensed provider. Read: ESAD Int'l's service dog fraud policy.

Learn more about qualifying for an assistance animal.