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Condo association insists on documentation for service dog

The Fair Housing Act protects Michigan residents and all other Americans who are members of protected classes from discrimination when they are choosing a home. A recent situation involving a disabled condominium owner brings to light how the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act work together to protect disabled individuals.

The Florida woman owns a dog, named Maui, who originally provided her with emotional support. She eventually decided to train him to be a service animal to help her with her disabilities.

The condominium association where the woman lives does not allow dogs near its pool unless they are documented service animals. Maui’s owner says that she has documentation from her psychologist stating that she is disabled and that she is protected under Fair Housing and the ADA. The condominium association says that without specific documentation for the dog as a service animal, it will fine Maui’s owner $100 each time she brings the dog near the pool. Maui’s owner has submitted documents of some type to the condo association.

The Fair Housing Act protects members of protected classes from being discriminated against when they seek to buy or rent a home. Disabled people have different protections under Fair Housing and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA requires that entities make accommodations for the needs of the disabled. The question of whether a pet is a service animal and should be allowed in pet-restricted areas might be legally complicated, but the ADA does state that entities are not allowed to ask for documentation that a dog is a service animal.

SOURCE: ADA.gov, ‘Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals,” July 2015

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