T.R. from Sarasota County, Florida writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I just moved into a large condo complex here in Venice and have a service dog (emotional support). The dog has been approved by the Board of Directors. However, a couple of residents on my floor don’t like the idea of me having a service dog. Since moving in, I’ve received numerous complaints that I’m not following the rules & regulations, and am even being questioned about the need to have a service dog (I look healthy enough to them). There is a ring-leader, she’s in her late 70-‘s early 80’s . . . I now HATE living here . . . feel like I’m back in Jr High / High School again having to deal with bullies. What a nightmare!!! Should I contact the Association Board (what can they do?), the police? What type of attorney should I look for, and what are my rights?
Mister Condo replies:
T.R., I am sorry that you find yourself entwined in this type of neighbor versus neighbor issue at your new condominium. I am sure that the actions of your neighbors is making you quite uncomfortable. Clearly, you are being bullied. The only solution is to fight back, legally. I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice in this column. You need to speak to an attorney, ideally one that specializes in FHA rights or similar. My guess is that these bullies are being careful to cover their tracks so that bringing criminal charges against them via the police may be difficult but, should you feel threatened, calling the police is certainly an option. Alerting the association Board is a good idea but, as you have mentioned, controlling the residents’ personal behavior is beyond the scope of their governing power. If specific rules are being broken, the Board can act but it is common for neighbors to work out their own issues. Contact an attorney to discuss legal options. Perhaps a cease and desist order will indicate to your neighbors that you are serious about protecting yourself and your rights. All the best!