What's the law?
Consult with disability rights expert
I have lived in the same apartment for eight years and have had no problems with my landlord until recently. I am disabled, and my landlord allowed me to live with my yellow Lab, which is a service animal. Although my building has a no-pets policy, my landlord was understanding and allowed me to move in with my dog as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. My service dog is getting old and has a stomach disorder that causes her to have frequent diarrhea. My landlord now wants to evict me because of the mess and the smell that my dog creates. I wrote him a letter stating that my dog has a disability and provided a letter from the vet. As my dog is a service animal, shouldn't she be protected by the ADA and a reasonable accommodation be made for her medical condition?
Answer: From Legal Aid's Fair Housing Unit: The ADA only offers protection to disabled people; a disabled service animal would not be protected.
The question in this situation would be, given the service dog's frequent bouts of diarrhea and the ensuing mess and smell, Is the accommodation that was granted still reasonable? If there is an undue burden or expense to the landlord, then the accommodation would not be considered legal, and the eviction might not be in violation of the ADA. As this situation does not lead to a definitive answer, the best course of action in this case would be for the tenant to consult with an attorney or advocate specializing in disability rights.
Q: I sent in a question to you a long time ago and never got an answer. Do you really have so many questions that I am that far back in "line"?
A: While this column does receive regular inquiries, you can generally expect an answer to your question within a month. If you have read every week and not seen your question answered, it would most likely be due to the fact that it asks about an area of law that we do not cover (e.g., criminal). In short, Legal Aid provides assistance to low- and moderate-income citizens with their civil legal needs. Our main areas of practice include housing, public benefits and family law.
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii operates statewide. Practice areas include housing, public benefits, consumer and family law but not criminal law. For information, call 536-4302. Submit questions by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
or by U.S. mail to Legal Aid Q&A, 924 Bethel St., Honolulu, HI 96813.