What are my right's to having an emotional support dog in a "no pets" apartment, when i have a note from my doctor?
Emotional Support Animal (they are not Service Animals and do not have anywhere near the level of protection, the landlord in most circumstances has to tolerate the ESA but can charge fees). These are the different companion animal categories:
Service Animals are for people with physical disabilities, such as the blind. They are governed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and enjoy huge protections. Places of business have to accommodate them, and landlords can not charge for them. The HOA can not exclude them. You may want to make sure if these other dogs are in fact Service Animals.
Emotional Support Animals are for anxiety, PTSD and other mental/emotional conditions. ESAs are NOT governed by the ADA, but rather the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and do not enjoy anywhere near the level of protection that a Service Animal enjoys. Places of business can exclude them, and landlords can charge for them. An HOA is a private entity created and governed by private contract (the CC&Rs) so this is a little murky whether they have to accommodate them. ESAs are a newer area of law, so I recommend contacting the FHA office directly and asking them what is needed to register and what protections you have in this instance.
Then, there is a third category called "Therapy Animals"--these are animals (usually dogs) that have special training to visit nursing homes, hospitals, prisons, hospices, etc. to provide solace and comfort. These are just considered pets under the law and have no special protection.
We do not have an attorney-client relationship. I am not your lawyer. The statements I have made do not constitute legal advice. Any statements I have made are based upon the very limited facts you have presented, and under the premise that you will consult with a local attorney. This is not an attempt to solicit business. This disclaimer is in addition to any disclaimers that this website has made. I am only licensed in California.
I know that there was a Bill considered by the Legislature recently that would allow you to do what you are asking with a note from a doctor. You need to consult an attorney to determine your options in more detail.
My answers to questions are for general purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or establish any attorney-client relationship.
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