Miami’s Pit Bull Ordinance is Preempted by FHA

Miami’s Pit Bull Ordinance is Preempted by FHA

  • Posted: Feb 21, 2016
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Miami’s Pit Bull Ordinance is Preempted by FHA By: Alessandra Stivelman, Esq.   The Federal and Florida Fair Housing Acts (the “FHA”) do not provide sufficient guidance as to what information a community association can request to verify a resident’s need for an emotional support animal (“ESA”). Since many associations have had negative experiences with residents attempting to take advantage of the lack of clarity in the law, some associations are now adamant about demanding absolute proof of a resident’s need for an accommodation and, in doing so, may go beyond the scope of a reasonable inquiry. In the last few years, while case law has provided some clarification, there still remains uncertainty as to an association’s obligations when reviewing reasonable accommodation requests.   Until recently, the law did not address whether an association could approve a pit-bull breed as an ESA in Miami-Dade County. This question recently arose in the case of Warren v. Del Vista Towers Condominium Assn., Inc, pending in the United States Court for the Southern District of Florida. The case involves an individual who allegedly suffers from Severe Recurrent Major Depressive Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Upon submitting a request to the Association along with a letter from his treating psychiatrist requesting a reasonable accommodation to maintain a dog within his Unit, Mr. Warren alleges that he was intimidated by the Association’s property manager and received a letter from the Association’s attorney advising that the Association had contacted his treating psychiatrist directly demanding more information.   Along with other counts against the property manager and the management company, Mr. Warren filed a complaint contending that the Association failed to reasonably accommodate his request for maintaining an ESA in the Condominium and requested unnecessary, invasive details about his medical history. Mr. Warren’s attorney had timely replied to the request for information from the Association reiterating that the original letter from his treating psychiatrist verified his diagnosis and his disability related need for an ESA. Mr. Warren’s attorney also explained how his dog assists him with coping with his disability by providing unconditional affection, comfort and emotional support.   Alessandra Stivelman of Eisinger Brown Lewis Frankel & Chaiet in Hollywood focuses her practice on community association and real estate law….

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