By Kip Reynolds
Ah, fur babies! We love them so much. My husband and I have two. One is a puggle and the other is, well, he’s a special case wrapped in the appearance of a very sweet 35 lbs dog. He tends to use his mouth for more than just eating, which can be problematic especially since we live in a townhouse that shares a wall with wonderful neighbors. Our neighbors also have pups. It seems to work nicely for everyone’s coexistence. We are blessed because our walls are very thick and our homeowners association allows pets.
It’s a strange arrangement for me though. Growing up, my dad was the local country veterinarian. We had 14 cats, three dogs, three horses, a goat, a fish tank, and even a few garter snakes my brother would rotate through from outside. Life in the Pennsylvania countryside was not life in a Florida townhome community.
As a realtor, I’ve come to learn the ins and outs of many association’s rules, regulations, and procedures. When it came to pets it was once a lot easier to draw a clear line in the sand and say what was allowed and what was not. These days things have changed a bit when it comes to even the definition of the word “pet.”
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development published guidance for housing providers who accommodate assistance animals. Assistance animals are not pets. The guide clarifies how housing providers can comply with the Fair Housing Act when assessing a request to have an animal that provides assistance because of a disability. A key distinction.
According to the March issue of Florida Realtor, “in most circumstances, a refusal to make such a change or exception, known as a ‘reasonable accommodation’ is unlawful. This is an exception to a no-pet policy for someone with a qualified disability who requires the assistance of an animal that does work, performs tasks, or provides therapeutic emotional support because of that disability.”
A lot to digest! The question comes down to what is a pet? I’m not an attorney, but it seems apparent little fur babies can also provide emotional support which no longer boxes them in the definition of the word pet. This can be a difficult concept for people like landlords and tenants to comprehend. However, failure to understand does not exclude anyone from obeying HUD rules for fair housing. Be sure to seek legal advice for clarification and always remember to love the ones you’re with no matter if they have two legs or four, live in water or on land.
Kip Reynolds, PA CRS
Coldwell Banker Realty
901 E Las Olas Blvd., Ft Lauderdale
Direct: 954-854-3048 | kipreynolds.com