Sunday, May 15, 2016

Prescription Pooch's $36K Bite Out Of HOA Gets Federal Appeals Court OK; Emotionally Distressed Condo Owner Was Forced To Sell Home Of Close To 20 Years After HOA Wilfully Disregarded His Healthcare Providers' Documentation Showing That Companion Pet Would Help Him Manage Depression, Anxiety

A federal appeals court has recently affirmed an order of the Secretary of the Department of Housing & Urban Development ordering a condominium association to pay $20,000 in emotional distress damages to a now-former unit owner with disabilities, plus a $16,000 civil penalty to the government after finding that the association violated the Fair Housing Act when it refused to allow him to keep his emotional support dog, Bebo, thereby leaving him with no choice but to vacate the premises and unload his home of close to 20 years.

From a press release issued at the time the original order was issued by the HUD Secretary:
  • The case came to HUD's attention when a resident of Castillo Condominiums filed a complaint alleging that the condominium's homeowner association discriminated against him when it denied his request to keep an emotional support animal in his unit, even though he presented documentation from his healthcare provider identifying his disability and his need for the animal.

    Pets were allowed when the resident initially bought his unit in 1995, but the condominium association had adopted a "no-pets" policy before the resident adopted his emotional support animal. As a result of being denied the right to have a support animal, the man experienced depression and anxiety and he was forced to sell the home he had lived in for almost 20 years.

    HUD's Order modifies a previous HUD Administrative Law Judge decision that ordered Castillo Condominium Association to pay only $3,000 in emotional distress damages and a $2,000 civil penalty. The HUD order ruled that a higher damages award and civil penalty are necessary in light of the seriousness of the violation and complainant's injuries.
For the recent appeals court ruling, see Castillo Condominium Ass'n v. Sec'y of HUD, No. 14-2139 (1st Cir. May 2, 2016).

For the HUD Secretary's order, see Sec'y of HUD v. Castillo Condominium Ass'n, et ano, HUD ALlI2-M-034-FH-9 (October 2, 2014).