No Pets Allowed vs. Emotional Support Animals. The fight between South Florida Residents and HOAs

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on April 26, 2013

Service DogEven if the rules in your HOA agreement state clearly that no pets are allowed, residents are finding a way around the rule with the designation of an “emotional support animal.” This loophole in condo associations’ rules allows pet owners to have their beloved pooch at their side if they can find a physician, psychiatrist, social worker or mental health professional to write a letter saying the animal is needed for the emotional support of their patient.

A property manager for a Miami-Dade real estate management company categorizes the problem as “epidemic,” and believes anyone asking whether or not they can have a pet while they are condo shopping, is suspect to taking advantage of the loophole.

Residents who don’t have pets because they abide by the HOA’s rules, or can’t be around pets for medical reasons, are up in arms. One Miami-Dade attorney says he regularly gets calls from board directors who want to know what they can do about pets that seem to be overrunning their buildings. Directors need to know what questions they can ask, what documentation will prove legitimacy of the need, and what they can do to protect themselves if accommodation must be granted.

Emotional support dogs are different than service dogs, such as seeing-eye canines. Support animals are covered by the Fair Housing Act; service dogs are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Getting Legal Help

The law offices of Isaac Benmergui can help you with your legal real estate needs from issues with your HOA to representation at closing; call 780-800-2510 or email for more information or to set up an appointment today.





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