M.A. from New Haven County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our condo association allows dogs, but they can only be walked on the rear yard in the grass, and cannot be walked on the street within the community. I have asked the Board for an exception to this rule because of a recent medical problem that has left me partially disabled. My doctor has written a letter stating that I need to walk on a flat surface only. The Board turned me down and suggested I get rid of the dog. My dog is my main emotional support. I have no family in this area and she provides me with comfort and support. Do I have a case against this Board through either the Fair Housing Act, or the ADA?
Mister Condo replies:
M.A., I am not an attorney so if you need a legal opinion kindly contact a qualified attorney who can best answer your question. I am sorry that you were not successful with petitioning your board as to where you can walk your dog. I can empathize with both parties here. You need your dog and you have every right to have a dog as per your association rules. However, the board needs to maintain order within the community and once you are seen walking your dog in a non-designated area, other residents are sure to follow. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is not likely going to help you here as the association is private property and the ADA primarily deals with access issues on public property. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) may offer you some relief but since your board has already ruled that the dog cannot be walked outside of designated areas, I am not sure what else the board can be forced to do. They have already made reasonable accommodations in that the dog is allowed and that they provide an area for the dog to be walked. These conditions were in existence and known to you before you became a member of the association. That being said, it is in your best interest to speak with an attorney to see if you have a case. Perhaps there is a friend or neighbor nearby who wouldn’t mind providing you with some dog-walking assistance from time to time? That would likely solve your issue and allow the board to keep order within the community and keep the rules in place and enforceable. Good luck!