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Author Topic: Limit on number of ESA if you have mulitiple children who need them?  (Read 481 times)

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Offline lehsimsgl

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I have a doctors note for my three children to have ESA's.  My landlord (government) told me last week that I am only allowed 2 per unit (that being a universal rule)...I thought that if I had three children stated in the letter then I can have 3 dogs for them.  Am I right or wrong?  How do I get proof so that I can fight this at arbitration for my write up, without hiring an attorney and then having problems with them?  Anyone?  I am in GA...does that matter, or is the ADA law US wide?  Thanks in advance.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2014, 06:50:31 PM by lehsimsgl »

Offline Kirsten

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You'd have to be able to show why more than one was necessary.  If there is a specific reason why they can't share a dog, you would need to bring that to the attention of the landlord in writing. Keeping an ESA in "no pets" housing is based on the principle of "reasonable accommodation." It takes into account the needs of the person with a disability as well as the needs of the landlord. I think setting a limit like two per unit is probably going to be considered reasonable unless you can show extenuating circumstances.

The ADA does not apply to housing unless that housing is owned by state or local government. The ADA also does not apply to ESAs. Most housing falls under the Fair Housing Act, but some landlords are exempt. Here's our article on housing with an ESA:  http://www.servicedogcentral.org/content/ESA-housing .  It includes information on filing a complaint with or contacting HUD.
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Offline poet_kelly

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The ADA is nationwide but does not apply to housing (in  most cases) or to ESAs.  The law that applies is the Fair Housing Act (FHA).  It applies to most rentals but not all.

You state your landlord is the government?  You live in housing owned by state or federal government?  If that's the case, then the laws may be different.  Are you in the military or something?

As Kirsten said, the law is about reasonableness.  You would need to show that there is a reason your three children cannot share two dogs but must each have their own.
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Offline Kirsten

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Offline poet_kelly

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I live in housing that is subsidized by HUD, but it is not owned by the government.  HUD just pays part of my rent, based on my income.  I am pretty sure the FHA applies here.
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Offline Kirsten

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Section 8 type housing, where HUD pays part of the rent but someone else owns the housing, some private landlord other than a government, goes under FHA.

The two documents in my previous post apply to housing projects owned by governments with assistance (funding) from HUD.  Because HUD gives them money, HUD can also give them additional regulations.  If a government owns the housing without additional funding from HUD, then it should be under Title II of the ADA and/or Section 504.  And that's where it gets really weird because Section II very clearly excludes ESAs and yet housing even under Title II is still administered by HUD who are pro-ESA.  We are starting to see these cases wind their way into courts but I have not yet seen a decision.  Mostly we're seeing it in the area of university dorms.  A University is owned by a state (usually).  And the University provides housing (dorms).  HUD's position is that ESAs are still covered in such housing, the DOJ hasn't weighed in because it's not their bailiwick really (they are supposed to support HUD since housing is HUD's responsibility), and I haven't seen a judge rule yet.  So there's a big fat "I'm not sure" when it comes to government owned housing without HUD assistance.  All we know for sure is that in all cases, whether it's the ADA, the FHAA, or the Rehab Act, the bottom line is always the reasonableness test.  But a judge is going to have to tell us how it applies.
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Offline Kirsten

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I said there were some cases about dorms on the horizon.  Here's one:
http://www.ada.gov/kearney_order.pdf

I honestly don't recall if I've read this already.  It's long.  I see that at the end the judge has issued a partial summary judgment, which should mean the case still had some stuff to sort out and I didn't see it's conclusion.  The part I did not recall that is interesting is that the judge determined that at least in this particular case the student housing being offered met the definition of "dwelling" under the FHA.  I'll need to be in better shape to read carefully to tease out exactly what criteria make it so and whether that would tend to apply to most student housing (or similar government owned housing) or not.  But you don't need to wait for me to read it if you are interested (which is why I included the link :wink: ).
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Offline NEROtic

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I assume this person lives on base housing.  HUD, FHA, and ADA do not apply on military bases.  They can limit the number of animals you keep on their property and really there's nothing that can be done.  If this is the case, you may want to look into moving off base.  If I am wrong and you do not live on base housing, then I'm not sure what the answer would be.
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Offline Kirsten

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Agreed if it is military base housing.  The military operates under its own legal system and the base commander has the authority to make decisions about things like disability accommodations in base housing. 
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Offline Roxie

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Reasonableness would prevail under Fair Housing law. That would be 1 (possibly 2) dogs or cats as Emotional Support Animals. Now each child might be able to have their own ESA if they were having other species of animal as an ESA. ie: Fish, salamander, hamster, gerbil, parakeet, or other small pocket animal.

Dogs are not the only type of ESA. I would think that also one's local laws on how many pet dogs a person/family could have could play into what would constitute reasonable.

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Offline LolaMarigolda

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Re: Limit on number of ESA if you have mulitiple children who need them?
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2014, 09:25:55 AM »
For base housing, the military member (MM) submits an Exception to Policy (ETP) letter.  Depending on the Base Commander and housing office (they have privatized most of it), they are easy to get; there are quite a few families with 3 pets (not ESAs) and ETP letters where Hubby is.
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Offline Magesteff

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Re: Limit on number of ESA if you have mulitiple children who need them?
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2014, 10:42:20 PM »
I do not see where the OP mentions Base housing, just that the OP lives in GA, in Government housing (subsidized apartments one possibility, as is a Military base).

Since a single animal can be cared for by more than one individual it would depend a lot on what the therapist(s) feel was the necessary ingredient in having the ESA and if that singular item is possible to be a shared responsibility. Things that are needed, grooming (brushing/combing animal), feeding, exercising (playing with the pet indoors or outside), walking a dog for toileting.  All these items can be shared, and if needed put on a schedule so that each child gets to experience all aspects.

A landlord can limit the number of pets allowed, which is essentially what an ESA is. So 1 per family unit I think is a reasonable accommodation, if one lives in a no-pet situation, unless a therapist feels the children each need their own, in which case you would need documentation specifying why more than one is needed.

I am not familiar with base procedures other than it needs to go through the base commander.
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Offline Kirsten

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Re: Limit on number of ESA if you have mulitiple children who need them?
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2014, 08:23:28 AM »
Fort Benning is the fifth largest US military base and is located in Georgia.  Its population is over 120,000 and it covers 182,000 acres.  It is one of 20 bases in Georgia.  I don't think it's much of a stretch to suspect that a person living in Georgia in housing owned by the government is likely living on a military base.  And it's an important thing to note and remark on since military housing is subject to different laws than a housing project.
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