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Anonymous asked in Politics & GovernmentLaw & Ethics · 1 decade ago

Is there a law in California allowing me to have my pet in a complex?

My last 'dog' was taken from me by a family member. (he was more like a child) I have become extremely and increasingly upset without someone to 'talk' to. The amount of intelligence i need cannot be found in small dogs, i have met all breeds multiple of each.(no offense to those who own them) I would like a larger dog than my landlord allows. I have a year left on my lease and cannot terminate. The other complexes of apartments tell me there is some law that states if you have a doctors prescription for the dog it is allowed. This complex demands it be a service dog registered with a specific company of which they absolutely refuse to give me the name of. I cannot have children due to physical and financial problems. Any law saying they must allow me one is helpful. No sarcasm please. I am not of senior age and cannot use that as an excuse. I do suffer from a spinal injury though i would not like the law to insist i admit i have it if possible.


my landlord says the dog must be trained from one and only one specific training course. She wont tell me what the name is. And there is no 'national service dog' course. But there are many. if i pick one can she turn me down because its not the one she wont name?

4 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    It's a federal law (the Fair Housing Amendments Act), and it applies only to people who are disabled. Even under this law, landlords are permitted to restrict the size of the pet.

    The doctor's letter must from a mental health professional, must declare that you are under that doctor's care for mental illness and that you are so mentally ill as to be disabled by mental illness. It is a civil law, which means there is no housing police to come and make the landlord comply. You have to sue or file a complaint and wait an average of three years for a government agency to act.

    If your spinal injury is permanent and serious enough to disable you, AND if the dog is trained to perform tasks that mitigate that disability, then it might qualify as a service dog. It typically takes 18-24 months of training for a dog to be trained as a service dog, and the typical waiting period to get one from a program is about 3 years.

    Your landlord has a right to know why the animal is necessary, ie what the animal is for. If you go to court, it will go further and you'll have to provide complete medical documentation of the disability and need for the dog.

    Be it emotional support animal or service dog, it does not need to be registered with a certain company. You do need to be able to document your disability. In the case of a service animal, you need to be able to document the animal's training to mitigate your disability. In the case of an emotional support animal, you need to be able to document the medical need for the animal.

    --- edited to add ---

    By not looking at the entirety of the Fair Housing Act and Fair Housing Amendments Act, JP has missed a key factor: This law doesn't apply to everyone, just certain members of protected classes. The FHA protects people against discrimination due to race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin. The FHAA extended the protections of the FHA to people with disabilities, parents of minor children, and pregnant women. Pet owners are not considered a protected class. Neither are smokers or loud partiers. The premise behind permitting people with mental illness to have emotional support animals is that the animal is considered a treatment for a disability. So no disability means no qualifying for an emotional support animal under the FHAA.

    If you lived in public housing, it would be different. A different set of laws applies that permits people living in public housing greater rights with regard to pet ownership. Even so, the landlord would still be able to restrict size and breed of dog permitted. This all comes down to the key word "reasonable" in "reasonable accommodation." The presence of certain kinds of dogs increases the landlord's liability insurance premiums. He's already permitting small dogs. You'd need a compelling reason why the dog couldn't be a small one. An example of such a reason is if the dog was a guide dog. Toy breed dogs cannot perform the duties of a guide dog. Small dogs cannot pull wheel chairs. Without that compelling reason, even if you qualify for an emotional support animal, the landlord can still restrict the size and breed of the dog you get.

    There are intelligent small breeds. Corgis and Shelties are both herding breeds. Not all individual representatives of these breeds are brainy, but as a whole, they are very intelligent and trainable. Poodles and Papillions are also very trainable.

    According to neuropsychologist Dr. Stanely Coren, the top ten dogs in intelligence are:

    1Border Collie


    3German Shepherd

    4Golden Retriever

    5Doberman Pinscher

    6Shetland Sheepdog

    7Labrador Retriever



    10Australian Cattle Dog

    So there are three small breeds in the top ten.

    ---- edited to add ----

    It's not a question of just picking one. Either you're disabled and need a dog specially trained to do something you can't do because of your disability, or you aren't. If you apply for a service dog from a program, expect it to take an average of three years to get one, unless you need a guide dog. That's long after your lease is up.

    If disabled by mental illness and you want an emotional support animal, as I said before, the landlord can limit the size of the animal. If you want a service animal, you'll have to apply for a dog that has about 2 years of training on it and be on a waiting list for an average of 3 years. Those are the only two options under the FHAA.

    Yes, there are plenty of places where you can get a fake certification. Save your money and print your own out (it's just as worthless). It sounds like your landlord is onto the scam organizations that sell these things over the internet sight-unseen. I have a pretty good idea what organization they're looking for (ADI) and it's one of the legitimate ones that isn't going to just certify a pet for a fee. But go ahead and apply. You won't get a choice of breed. If you qualify, you'll probably a lab or golden retriever.

    You should also be aware that in some states there are stiff criminal penalties for trying to pass off a pet as a service animal. My state is has one of the weaker laws. It's up to a year in jail and/or $1,000 fine, and the dog may be confiscated.

    If you decide you want to fight this rule, you'll have to have legal standing. That means you present to a judge proof that you are disabled and proof that your disability requires that it be a certain dog and not one of the ones your landlord already permits. Again, it typically takes an average of three years for such a case to wind its way through the courts. In the interim you still don't have a dog, or else you don't have a home, and you have the added stress of a legal battle and strangers going through your complete medical records with a fine toothed comb.

    It seems to me that if you really want a dog now, you get a small dog and if you really want a big dog, you wait until you've moved someplace that permits them. You can't get a service dog before your lease is up (in less than a year) and you can't get a large emotional support animal, so even if you are disabled you still don't have a way around the landlord's rules.

    The only other option I see is to volunteer at a shelter and spend some time with their dogs.

    Source(s): I'm a disability advocate.
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  • 1 decade ago

    It appears that you may be looking into an ESA.

    To have an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) in "no pets" housing through the FHAA (Fair Housing Act Amendments), you must meet the legal definition of "disabled". If you cannot meet the legal definition of disabled, then you cannot claim the animal as an ESA and have it where it is prohibited.

    Animals that are for emotional support and/or comfort or companionship are not legally defined as "service animals" under the law and cannot be identified as such.

    A "companion animal" is simply a pet, and the owner of a pet has no rights to public access with one or to live in "no pets" housing with one.

    A "doctors note" for the use of an ESA can be obtained from your primary care physician after you have been determined to be disabled under the lawful terms and definitions.

    You also need to be aware that the request must be meet the "reasonable accommodations" clause, meaning that it has to be agreeable to all parties involved and be within reason. As an example: Having a Great Dane as an ESA in a 500 sq/ft apartment on the 30th floor would not be termed reasonable and denial would be forthcoming.

    Maintaining an ESA is also contained in the "reasonable accommodations" clause, and if you are unable to properly care for the animal, pick up after the animal, or keep the animal from being a nuisance to your neighbors, you can legally be denied from keeping one, or can even have an existing one removed.

    One is also responsible for any and all damage caused by the ESA to any property on the premises.

    Edit: Your landlord can turn you down if you have not been legally determined to be "disabled" and in need of an ESA, not because you dont have the "right certification".

    Source(s): Husband of Guide dog user and Guide dog puppy raiser
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  • J P
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    There is Federal law which may help you. Check out the Fair Housing Act, or the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988. There are some recent cases involving companion animals. Here is a link to get you started, but you might try Googling those terms. Good Luck.

    The post below me is partially correct. However, this is a rapidly evolving area of law, and companion animals are considered within the ambit of the FHAA by some courts. Here are some excerpts from applicable law, and reference to some case law:

    The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act protect the right of people with disabilities to keep emotional support animals, even when a landlord's policy explicitly prohibits pets. Because emotional support and service animals are not "pets," but rather are considered to be more like assistive aids such as wheelchairs, the law will generally require the landlord to make an exception to its "no pet" policy so that a tenant with a disability can fully use and enjoy his or her dwelling. In most housing complexes, so long as the tenant has a letter or prescription from an appropriate professional, such as a therapist or physician, and meets the definition of a person with a disability, he or she is entitled to a reasonable accommodation that would allow an emotional support animal in the apartment.

    The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and several courts have explicitly stated that an exception to a "no pets" policy would qualify as a reasonable accommodation. See, e.g., Bronk v. Ineichen, 54 F.3d 425, 429 (7th Cir. 1995) (balanced against landlord's economic or aesthetic concerns as expressed in a no-pets policy, deaf tenant's need for accommodation of hearing dog is per se reasonable); Fulciniti v. Village of Shadyside Condominium Association, No. 96-1825 (W.D. Pa. Nov. 20, 1998) (defendant condominium association had not presented any evidence suggesting that the tenant's assistive animal created a threat or disturbance, and therefore violated the FHA by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation); Occupancy Requirements of Subsidized Multifamily Housing Programs, HUD, No. 4350.3, exhibit 2-2 (1998) (it would not constitute a fundamental alteration in the nature of the program or activity to require the Owner to make an exception to the no pets rule so that tenant could keep assistive animal, where "assistive animal" includes emotional support animals for people with chronic mental illness).

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  • ?
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago


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