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Pet Policy Must Allow for Reasonable Accommodations Under Fair Housing Act

Casagmo Condo. Ass’n v. Venegas, No. DBCV094010514S, Conn. Super. Ct., Aug. 31, 2010.

Ms. Venegas purchased a condo unit in the Casagamo Condominium Association in 2008. Before closing, she received the association’s governing documents, which included a regulation prohibiting pets in all units. Shortly after moving in, Ms. Venegas got a dog. The association notified Venegas that she was in violation of the CCRs and requested her appearance at a hearing before the board of directors. At the hearing, Venegas told the board that the animal was prescribed to her because she suffers from a mental illness.

The board rejected this explanation, and began fining Venegas for her violations. Venegas maintained the dog in her unit and refused to pay the assessed fines. In response, the association filed suit against Venegas seeking an injunction to prohibit her from keeping the dog in her unit. Venegas asserted the defense that the dog was a service animal, and under the Fair Housing Act the dog should be permitted as a reasonable accommodation to the association’s regulations.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing against, among other classes, handicap persons. A person is handicapped if a physical or mental impairment substantially limits one or more life activities. Under the Act, “a refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling” is considered discrimination.

In this case, the trial court denied the association’s motion for summary judgment because several issues of material fact still existed.  

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Authors: Ryan McCabe

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