QUESTION: What about disabled owners with service animals? Do they have to clean up after their dogs?
RESPONSE: Yes, they must clean-up after their animals. Dog feces in common area hallways or lawns present a health hazard. No one wants to step in it and track it into their cars or units.
Blind Clean-Up. Guide dogs for the blind can be taught to go on command. That way, the owner can get clear ofthe common areas before issuing the command. In the alternative, the owner can pick it up from a common area lawn with a waste bag. The blind are amazingly capable at doing things, including cleaning up after their dogs. They know when their dog is doing its business and have a good idea of where it will land.
Statutes. Under the California Disabled Persons Act, an owner of a housing accommodation can establish terms in a lease or rental agreement that reasonably regulate the presence of guide dogs, signal dogs, or service dogs on the premises of a housing accommodation. (Civ. Code, §54.1(b)(6)(B).) It also states that a tenant is responsible for damage caused by their animal. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act incorporates Civil Code §54.1 into the Act. (Gov. Code, §12948.) This can be applied to associations.
Case Law. In Prindable v. Association of Apartment Owners (2003) 304 F.Supp.2d 1245, a homeowners association had a "no pet" policy. An owner submitted a request for accommodation to have an emotional support dog named Einstein. The association granted temporary approval while it made a determination, provided that Prindable agreed:
(1) to take full responsibility for Einstein; (2) not to permit Einstein to defecate or urinate at the complex; (3) not to permit Einstein to disrupt the quiet enjoyment of other tenants; (4) not to wash Einstein in the shower provided for residents; (5) not to permit Einstein to go into the laundry room or to stand on the common area furniture; (6) to keep Einstein within unit 102 or within the limited common yard area of the unit at all times; (7) to use the shortest possible route when taking Einstein to and from the unit, that is, through the pedestrian entrance and exit of the garage; and (8) not to walk Einstein on the project grounds or common areas, except when taking him to and from the unit.
Prindable filed a housing discrimination complaint against the association alleging it had failed to make a reasonable accommodation. The court noted that nothing in the FHA precludes the imposition of appropriate rules and regulations designed to lessen the impact of housing a pet in a no pet building. The court ruled for the association.
Care and Supervision. Associations are not responsible for the care and supervision of an assistance. That is the responsibility of the owner of the animal. Nor is it "reasonable accommodation" for an owner to assign those duties to an association.
Recommendation: Legal counsel should review an association's rules to make sure they are reasonable. If a disabled or emotionally challenged person claims they can't clean up after their animal and want reasonable accommodation, legal counsel should be contacted.
ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.