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Phaedra Howard Quoted in “HOA Leader” Article on Assistance Animals

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Phaedra Howard Quote:

“It’s hard to say if a change is coming,” says Phaedra J. Howard, a partner specializing in community association law at Hellmuth & Johnson PLLC in Edina, Minn. “I do think that decision would have come out differently if it had been a fair housing claim with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rather than an eviction claim through the housing court system.

“Unless something’s happened beyond the HUD cases I’ve seen, I question whether the behavior of this dog reached the point where HUD would have said, ‘No, you don’t have to allow the tenant’s accommodation,'” says Howard. “Even then, HUD wants landlords to ask: ‘OK, is there no way we can have this animal there with more accommodations?’

“The Fair Housing Act, which HUD is enforcing, does have an exception for a threat to the safety of residents,” explains Howard. “But the case law I’ve seen is that you have to show an established history; it can’t just be a fear this dog might do something at some point.

“So if this case had been before HUD, I think HUD would have said, ‘If you think this dog poses a danger—because right now it’s just growling, barking, and lunging—you have to show a history of it physically attacking another person or dog. Also, are there ways to mitigate that behavior and still allow the dog?'” states Howard.

“In my experience with the case law out there, I don’t think HUD would say this court got it right,” concludes Howard. “That being said, we’ve got a new administration in place, and HUD could change its position. But I haven’t seen that from HUD yet with the cases that have come out.”

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