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  1. #1
    bjobjs is offline Junior Member
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    Companion Animals

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)?
    I live in California. My spouse and I in July 2008 moved into a new apartment. My spouse works 7 days a week 12-16 hours a day. Our child is grown and on her own, my parents are deceased and I have no other family to speak of. I'm a stay at home partner.
    When we moved into the new place in July, the owner refused to allow pets so we got rid of our dog. Towards the end of July, my spouse made me an appointment to see my doctor. I was sleeping too much and had no energy. When I went to see the doctor, he stated I was showing signs of depression. I refuse to take pills so he prescribed a companion animal.

    We went and spoke with the person we had given our Chihuahua to and asked if they minded returning him to us as my companion animal. He is house broken, minds well, don’t bark, clean, and friendly to everyone. I walk him completely off the property before he uses the bathroom and I clean up after him. I took all the proper steps necessary to inform the manager and owner of my doctor's recommendation, along with providing them with information regarding companion animals.

    Just recently I spoke with the owner who said he was raising my rent $200 a month because I have a dog. That's almost a 40% rent increase after just two months. He also stated that there were two other tenants with pet cats and they too were getting their rent raised (although these cats have been here long before I moved in). I explained that mine was not a pet but a companion animal. The conversation ended with the owner telling me that everyone was going to get their rent raised.

    This is where my questions come in. I know the law does not allow for my rent to be increased just because I have a companion animal but if everyone is getting there rent increased does that allow for my rent to be higher than everyone else’s or does the rent increase have to be equal amongst everyone? What if no one other than me receives a rent increase? Is there anything I can do? (other than move) I know in California that the owner can raise the rent at will but can he vindictively raise mine because of my companion animal? And almost 40%?
    Last edited by bjobjs; 08-23-2008 at 09:27 AM. Reason: extra sentences
  2. #2
    MIRAKALES is offline Senior Member
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    Question

    Question: What was the reason for accepting a lease agreement that did not allow for pets?
    The lease agreement between both LL and tenant did not allow for pets. Tenant violated the lease agreement by allowing pet to occupy premises. (Whether the pet dog is well-trained or not, this is a clear violation of the lease agreement and LL’s policies.) The fact that tenant has obtained (or requested) a medical prescription for a “companion animal” is irrelevant to the lease agreement. The lease agreement was for a pet-free environment. The LL is justified in modifying the lease agreement by providing thirty (30) days written notice. Tenant is justified in terminating the lease agreement by providing thirty (30) days written notice to vacate.

    With that said, it is clear that this LL/tenant relationship will not work, therefore, find a new apartment that accepts pets. For the record, LL raised the rent to an exorbitant amount in order to motivate tenant to vacate (or remove pet). LL is not being vindictive -- LL is abiding by the lease agreement. LL, obviously, does not want pets in the rental premises.
  3. #3
    tranquility is offline Senior Member
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    MIRAKALES apparently hasn't been reading much of the law of late regarding companion animals. They are not pets. Period. Those who think they are pets and treat their owners as though they are are setting themselves up for lawsuits which they will lose for big money.

    While I think the law will have to change to a more reasonable level because it is ripe for abuse, it's not there yet. The OP should see a real property attorney or civil rights attorney for advice. I don't think litigation is a good first step and think those who try to work with each other for a win/win solution are going to be ahead in the long run. The OP certainly has rights here.

    There is not a violation of the least agreement as there is no pet.
  4. #4
    Alaska landlord is offline Senior Member
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    In this case, the landlrord has not violated ADA law regarding companion animals. He is raising everyone's. rent Therefore no discrimination has taken place. Cudos to this LL.
  5. #5
    MIRAKALES is offline Senior Member
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    The “companion animal” is classified as a pet because pets are considered legal companions.
    The companion whether it be a pet or not is still an animal with all the accompanying issues. Tenant agreed to rent the premises without a pet or animal being a condition of the lease agreement. In fact, tenant relinquished the pet/animal to another person. Therefore, the pet/animal was not a “companion” before or at the time of lease agreement. The fact of the matter is that tenant has obtained (or requested) a medical prescription for a “companion animal” is irrelevant to the original lease agreement. The original lease agreement and conditions were for a pet-free / animal-free environment.

    In defense of the LL, imagine if other tenants are allergic to the “companion animal”… these tenants are also entitled to respect of their medical condition. The “companion animal” does not supersede the allergic tenant and the agreement to a pet-free / animal-free environment. There are many other serious reasons for pet-free / animal-free environments. Nevertheless, LL is not denying the “companion pet” -- LL is modifying the lease agreement which is his/her right to maintain the premises.

    The pet/animal in question was not a “companion animal” until tenant obtained (or requested) a medical prescription for the SAME pet/animal that was relinquished to obtain the rental. This seems like a potential case of abuse of the law. Similar to “medical marijuana” for many that do not have TRUE pre-existing medical conditions. This is not the clear and obvious case of a trained medical necessitated animal, such as a seeing eye dog, a hearing assistance dog, etc.
    (Tenant also had/has the option to remedy depression with medication, but chose not to.)

    The “companion pet” should have been revealed at the time of application and lease agreement. Therefore, a lease violation arguably exists. This tenant’s medical condition and need for a “companion animal” did not become an issue until after lease signing. Tenants often create circumstances to obtain access to choice rentals then change the conditions in violation of the lease. (A court may deem the circumstances unconvincing.)
  6. #6
    Alaska landlord is offline Senior Member
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    The Difference between Service Animals, Therapy Animals, Companion Animals and "Social/therapy" Animals
    Service animals are legally defined (Americans With Disabilities Act, 1990) and are trained to meet the disability-related needs of their handlers who have disabilities. Federal laws protect the rights of individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals in public places. Service animals are not considered "pets."

    Therapy animals are not legally defined by federal law, but some states have laws defining therapy animals. They provide people with contact to animals, but are not limited to working with people who have disabilities. They are usually the personal pets of their handlers, and work with their handlers to provide services to others. Federal laws have no provisions for people to be accompanied by therapy animals in places of public accommodation that have "no pets" policies. Therapy animals usually are not service animals.

    Companion animal is not legally defined, but is accepted as another term for pet.

    "Social/therapy" animals likewise have no legal definition. They often are animals that did not complete service animal or service dog training due to health, disposition, trainability, or other factors, and are made available as pets for people who have disabilities. These animals might or might not meet the definition of service animals.

    Resources [url=http://www.deltasociety.org]Delta Society - Improving Human Health through Service and Therapy Animals[/url]
  7. #7
    CA LL is offline Senior Member
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    FEDERAL CASE LAW has determined that if proper criteria are met, companion ANIMALS (not pets) must be permitted.

    The person must have a disability (but you can't ask what it is) and a person who has reasonable knowledge of treatment / care for that disability (therapist or doctor, etc) submits a written justification PLUS the "animal" cannot place an undue burden on the LL...for example a pit bull would create insurance issues, a comfort animal that's a giraffe, etc.

    THIS IS FEDERAL LAW FOLKS as defined by FEDERAL case law.

    But unless the "illness" qualifies as a "disability"....the LL might be able to fight it.

    Mir...you are incorrect in your statements above...
    Last edited by CA LL; 08-24-2008 at 03:10 PM.
  8. #8
    Cvillecpm is offline Senior Member
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    Red face

    Take the medication perscribed and have your doctor PERSCRIB the dog by name/breed on a perscription slip and show that to the landlord. Provide the landlord with a COPY and you keep the original

    DONE ALL THE TIME.

    Then if the landlord insist on raising rent, file a Fair Housing complaint based on handicapped status since you have provided PROOF of the animal's position as a companion animal based on your medical condition....
  9. #9
    MIRAKALES is offline Senior Member
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    It is necessary to proceed with caution when providing advice that may be intended to circumvent the law. This is not a case of federal law violations or denial of medical necessitated animals. The abuse of law and policies to satisfy a selfish need is not what the law is intended for.

    Tenants have choices and options when deciding where to live. A responsible tenant would choose an option that does not conflict with existing policy. To agree to a policy and then alter the agreement (within ONE month) is a BREACH OF LEASE AGREEMENT. This tenant has chosen to challenge the LL and the premise policy, and potentially may pose a hazard to other tenants. This is not a responsible tenant -- not responsible to either to the LL, the premises, or the pet. At best, this tenant and the circumstances are self-serving without a doubt. Allow the federal laws and medical necessary animals to serve ONLY those with legitimate and proven needs.
    The circumstances described do not rise to the level of being legally legitimate or established as proven.

    Question: What was the reason for accepting a lease agreement that did not allow for pets?
    (The answer provided would reveal more of the truth.)
  10. #10
    Hot Topic is offline Senior Member
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    The question is: Did the OP have the legal right to reacquire her dog because a doctor, who may or may not have experience in the field of mental health, determined that she had SIGNS of depression.

    Could the OP have dealt with the situation in another way? Yes. She could have taken medication. She chose not to.

    The woman wanted her dog back because she was bored. The doctor would have done better by her had he suggested that she consider doing something to occupy her time.
    Last edited by Hot Topic; 08-24-2008 at 11:38 AM.
  11. #11
    You Are Guilty is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Topic View Post
    The question is: Did the OP have the legal right to reacquire her dog because a doctor, who may or may not have experience in the field of mental health, determined that she had SIGNS of depression.

    Could the OP have dealt with the situation in another way? Yes. She could have taken medication. She chose not to.

    The woman wanted her dog back because she was bored. The doctor would have done better by her had he suggested that she consider doing something to occupy her time.
    Exactly. I can have an old college buddy who happens to be a cardio-thoracic surgeon write me a "scrip" for a "companion rhino". Now my LL has to let Robby Rhino live with me? Don't hold your breath.

    Even though the liberals have taken the true "service animal" accommodation and *******ized it to the point where you can actually find web sites explaining how to file an ADA complaint in order to keep your beloved pet (who, of course, is actually a "service animal" in disguise all these years) in a no-pet building, there are still a few viable legal defenses available.

    Disgraceful, and a huge disservice to those who truly need such accommodations.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tranquility
    Once you get to crazy land, it is only a guess on how to get out.
  12. #12
    Alaska landlord is offline Senior Member
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    I kinda lost the link to this site, but of interest is the very last sentence.


    Unlike Sec. 504, the FHAA applies to both public and private housing. Under the FHAA, in addition to establishing a qualifying disability, the tenant must also establish that the landlord knew of the tenant's disability, waiving the "no pets" policy was necessary to allow the tenant to equally use and enjoy the dwelling, and the landlord refused to waive the "no pets" policy. Also, the tenant must request a waiver of the "no pets" policy from the landlord, explaining that he or she has a mental disability and needs the emotional support animal to lessen the effects of the disability. A note from a physician to this effect is often used to inform the landlord of the disability and request the accommodation. Mere emotional distress that would result from having to give up an animal because of a "no pets" policy will not qualify under federal law. Instead, there must be a link between the animal and the disability.

    Under both statutes, a mentally disabled person must meet two standards when arguing a waiver of a "no pets" provision as a reasonable accommodation: (1) the accommodation must facilitate the disabled person's ability to function; and (2) the accommodation must pass a cost-benefit balancing test that takes both parties' needs into account. The former can be established by evidence showing that the handicap requires the companionship of the animal, the disabled person has an emotional and psychological dependence on the animal, or that the animal lessens the effects of the disability by providing companionship. The supporting evidence often comes from a medical professional. The latter requires an analysis of the benefits to the tenant as compared to the burdens placed on the landlord. Generally, there are minimal burdens placed on a landlord if required to waive a "no pets" policy. Especially because the number of mentally disabled persons who can qualify for waiver of a "no pets" provision is small, most landlords have been unsuccessful in arguing a denial of a waiver of a "no pets" policy because of extreme burdens. In addition, there must be no other reasonable alternatives to lessen the effects of the disability, other than the animal.
  13. #13
    Hot Topic is offline Senior Member
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    The last sentence is particularly interesting in view of the fact that the OP's disability has not been established. According to her doctor, she has signs of depression but has not been diagnosed as being clinically depressed.

    I'd like to know who isn't suffering from some degree of depression these days.

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