Allowing Emotional Support Animals in “No Pet” Housing
Many condo associations, apartment buildings and housing communities in the Virgin Islands have “No Pet” policies for owners and tenants. However, many people with disabilities need emotional support animals to help with daily activities. Dogs are not the only type of animals that can be assistance animals, although they are the most common. Assistance animals do not necessarily have to be certified or specially trained.
Federal law prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of disability. Housing communities are not allowed to refuse or place restrictions on residency due to a disabled person’s need for an assistance animal. Therefore, landlords and housing associations are required to make “reasonable accommodations” to allow disabled persons an equal opportunity to enjoy housing, even in communities with “No Pets” policies in place. A person with a disability can request accommodations for any assistance animal. If a person with a disability can show a link between his or her disability and the need for the animal, they may be entitled to an exception from the “No Pets” policy if the proper request is made to the housing community. This is rightly so, as emotional support assistance animals are not pets – they provide vital emotional support to persons with disabilities. Our Firm has litigated these types of issues so please call for a consultation.