Q&A: Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Dilemma

Q. My New Jersey condo association has a three-pet/one-dog pet policy. I am aware that regardless of any association’s pet policy, service/support animals for those with disabilities must be allowed (i.e., seeing-eye dogs, those for the hearing impaired, emotional support for those diagnosed with PTSD, etc.).

Recently, some residents who have been “caught” owning more than one dog have gone online and purchased ‘emotional support animal’ certificates, and presented them to the board/management to validate their otherwise improper second dog.

My research seems to indicate that if a resident is claiming the need for an emotional support dog, we can at least ask them to provide a letter from a qualified medical provider certifying the need for such an animal. Can you help clarify?

                   —Confused About ESAs

A. “Generally, the applicable laws that prohibit housing discrimination in New Jersey associations are: the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601, et seq., (the FHA); and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-12, et seq., (the LAD),” says attorney Hubert Cutolo of the firm Cutolo Barros in Manalapan. “The Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101, et seq., (the ADA) may be implicated if the common interest community permits the public to use its facilities. Specifically, the FHA imposes a duty to reasonably accommodate persons with disabilities. (See 42 U.S.C. 3604(f)(3).) It is not uncommon for associations to promulgate rules and regulations imposing restrictions on pets, such as the example above.

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