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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    6

    Default Companion Animal Rights

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of:
    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%?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    1,798

    Default Re: Companion Animal

    I believe he can. Your choices were to speak to the LL before taking the dog back, or finding a pet-friendly apartment, moving, and losing your deposit.

    There may be laws that prohibit such, but, I am unaware of them.
    ~Christina

    Unless a source is cited, anything posted here by me is only my opinion, and is not meant as legal advice.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Companion Animal

    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.

    Federal law allows a tenant to have a "companion animal," even if the lease says that no pets are allowed.

    The operator of the facility may not prohibit the companion animal nor discriminate against the owner of the companion animal, id. 8-2202, unless the companion animal constitutes a threat or nuisance to the health or safety of the other occupants. Id. 8-2203.

    COMPANION ANIMAL

    A court ruling will help many disabled tenants who require animals for emotional companions. The court ruling said that companion animals may now receive the same protection as guide or service animals. This means that under certain conditions, a tenant may be allowed to keep a companion animal even in a no pet building (since the companion animal is not a "pet")

    REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS

    Under California (and under certain Federal) law, a disabled person is entitled to a reasonable accommodation from the landlord. This may mean allowing certain changes to the rental unit (at the tenant's expense) to accommodate the disability. This may include handrails, ramps, lighted doorbells etc. A California court has stated that companion animals may now receive the same protection as guide or service animals. This means that under certain conditions, a tenant may be allowed to keep a companion animal even in a no pet building (since the animal is not a "pet) as a reasonable accommodation. Denying such accommodations may be unlawful discrimination.

    Unless there is something in your local or state landlord/tenant law that specifically prohibits it, you can generally add rules, fees, deposits and other charges regarding pets provided you apply the rules equally and consistently to every applicant and resident. (Please remember that assistive animals - service, guide and companion animals are never considered pets and therefore are not subject to any of your pet rules, fee and deposits)

    Emotional support, therapy or companion animals are not legally defined in the same way as service animals, and may not have been individually trained to perform specific tasks. They may, however, be exempt from pet policies and deposits if certified by a knowledgeable expert as enabling their owner to compensate for or cope with a qualifying mental, emotional or physical disability.


    Hopefully this helps clear up why I am asking what I am asking.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Dauphin County, PA
    Posts
    439

    Default Re: Companion Animal

    You would have to show your landlord proof that you are mentally disabled and are in need of the use of a "companion animal" by showing him/her more than a note from your Dr. You would need expert medical or psychological evidence.

    http://www.fairhouse.net/library/article.php?id=18

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    72,957

    Default Re: Companion Animal

    Has your landlord conceded that you are disabled, and stopped challenging you on that question or requesting additional documentation? Is what you shared here your entire history of diagnosis and treatment for depression - going to your G.P. and getting a prescription for a dog?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Companion Animal

    No the owner is not requiring any further documentation and no this is not my entire history. My history of depression starts back in 1987.

    What I want to know is can he legally raise my rent just because of my companion animal?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    72,957

    Default Re: Companion Animal

    Are you a month-to-month tenant, or do you have a lease fixing your rent into the future? If it's the former, you need to check your local ordinances to see if this constitutes an excessive rent increase without even considering the dog issues, as it may. If your rent increase is more than 10% of your rent at any time during the prior 12 months, you are entitled to sixty days notice of an increase. (See California Civil Code Sec. 827(b)).

    If your landlord is accepting that you're disabled and that you have a bona fide need for the dog as a companion animal, he may be setting himself up for problems if you challenge his conduct. His failure to investigate further would likely be construed as acceptance of the claims and documentation you have submitted. But he's going to do what he's going to do.

    Take a look at this case, Auburn Woods I Homeowners Assn. v. Fair Employment & Housing Com., 121 Cal. App. 4th 1578, 18 Cal. Rptr. 3d 669 (2004).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Greenfield, MA.
    Posts
    2

    Thumbs up Re: Companion Animal Rights

    HELLO!
    Don't let them intimidate you. This is what your landlord will be doing IF you get your ducks in a row. Get your psychiatrist, or therapist to write a letter for you showing what your pet has done for you since you have had it, + how you were before you had it. Make sure that everything you do is in writing to your landlord, + by certified mail, with return receipt requested, so they can't ever say they didn't get it.

    Do a google search for disabilities and pets, + do your research so this can NEVER happen to you again. I did this, + I'm ready to take on the world now, + I have 3 cats, + an iguana. I have everything I need now to fight it in court, IF I ever need to. I suffer from depression myself, so I KNOW how it is.

    No, they are not supposed to raise your rent, since your pet is supposed to be an assistance animal. Get that letter!

    Also go to the hud.gov site, + also do the same search as above. I did, + I have tons of articles, to use as precident, including case law.

    Also go to:
    livejustice.custhelp.com
    dlc-ma.org
    ada.gov
    bazalon.org

    May God bless your efforts. Get started!
    stines

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