Becker & Poliakoff

Donna DiMaggio Berger Addresses Service Animal/ESA Challenge for Community Associations

Donna DiMaggio Berger Addresses Service Animal/ESA Challenge for Community Associations

Woman shopping in a supermarket in a wheelchair in a with her Service Animal next to her.Ensuring that a shared ownership community welcomes legitimate service animals and emotional support animals (ESAs) while protecting the group from fraudulent claims is one of the most complex issues facing volunteer boards today. Becker shareholder and executive director of the Community Association Legislative Lobby Donna DiMaggio Berger joins Sandra Gottlieb of Swedelson Gottlieb and Melissa Garcia of Altitude Community Law to clarify how boards can confirm legitimate requests, avoid claims of discrimination, and safeguard quality of life for all members of the community.

This roundtable, led by Associa’s Andrew Fortin, addresses:

  • the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal and the laws that govern accommodating individuals who need either;
  • how community/condo/homeowner association boards should handle requests for either type of assistance animal within a community;
  • the common missteps community/condo/homeowner association board and/or property managers make regarding requests for service/support animal accommodation; and
  • the best ways community/condo/homeowner association boards can address concerns about abuse of an emotional support animal.

“It’s incredibly important for boards to understand what they can legally ask – and what they can’t – when they are trying to determine the legitimacy of [accommodation] requests,” said DiMaggio Berger. “[You need to] work with experienced legal counsel to properly evaluate the request, and, obviously, grant the request where it is warranted.”

In Florida, she continued, making or enabling a fraudulent request for the accommodation of a service animal or ESA is a crime. “It behooves boards to get this right.”

To view the entire discussion, please click here.

Part of Associa’s year-long campaign to promote awareness of the role of service animals, this discussion is also in partnership with Patriot Paws, a nonprofit that trains and provides service dogs of the highest quality at no cost to disabled American veterans and others with mobile disabilities. To learn more about Patriot Paws, please click here.