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At Boston Dog Lawyers we represent people who can demonstrate a legitimate need for an emotional support animal.

Most often the cases involve a landlord or condominium association who is refusing to allow a person’s dog or cat into a residence believing it is a pet. The landlord or HOA points to their “pet policy” which may have restrictions. What we know is that an emotional support animal (ESA) is not a pet. It is a tool to assist people suffering from a mental disability so that they too can enjoy their residence. When people struggle with anxiety or depression they might need extra help to achieve the same level enjoyment as someone without a disability. Medication, talk therapy and emotional support animals are ways to provide that opportunity. What the laws seek to protect is the tenant’s right to the freedom from serious interferences with their right to peacefully enjoy their tenancy.

Most times we find that a landlord only learns about the law when they break it. We have had great success in educating them to the point where they do allow our client to have their ESA. There are many nuances as to what limitations landlords and management companies can place on the keeping of an ESA. Many will try to limit their access to community areas or restrict where they can relieve themselves. They will enforce what they are allowed to enforce even though it is not always lawful, which is why you should seek legal counsel if you feel bullied or deprived of your rights.

When a tenant makes a request for what is known as a reasonable accommodation, there is very little discretion available to the landlord, management company, condo association or homeowners’ association. They are protected if the accommodation would create an undue financial or administrative burden for them. If the person shares the appropriate and credible proof of their need, a request cannot be denied based on the size or breed of the dog. However, if that particular dog has harmed or threatened harm to a resident, your right to have it as an ESA can be restricted.

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There are several laws that protect Americans with disabilities and several arenas through which their rights can be addressed. The Fair Housing Act and the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulations prohibit discrimination because of disability. Generally, someone seeking an adjustment (accommodation) to a pet policy must demonstrate a relationship between the disability and the companionship of the animal. A letter from your treating physician can achieve that. At Boston Dog Lawyers we do not accept letters from online providers who do not have an ongoing relationship with the person needing assistance.

There is not specified or required training of an emotional support animal and a landlord cannot deny or delay a request to have an ESA based on this. Also it is unreasonable for a property manager or landlord to require a pet deposit or even a pet fee since you do not have a pet!

Your right to have an ESA is mostly related to housing. It is possible that an employer could make a reasonable accommodation if you request to have the animal at your

workplace under certain circumstances. A business or restaurant is not required under the law to accommodate your request to have your ESA with you.


Potential clients are encouraged to provide their information below to receive a callback within 24 hours or call us directly at 844-DOG-ATTY (844-364-2889).*

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*Advisory:  Your further communication with Boston Dog Lawyers  (BDL) indicates your express acknowledgment and informed consent that you should not provide any confidential information and if you do, this will not prohibit any lawyer at BDL from representing a different or opposing party in the matter.  You should limit the information provided at the intake stages to your contact information and the general nature of your concern.  Any claim that BDL is disqualified from representing an adverse party because information considered confidential was provided by the prospective client is expressly waived.  Any communications between BDL and the prospective client do not constitute legal advice and do not create a lawyer-client relationship.  The information provided on this website does not constitute legal advice and by contacting BDL you understand that no attorney-client relationship has been created nor will one be created until we have a mutually agreed-upon and fully executed written contract for legal services.



"If you’re looking for a high quality attorney who is also a kind and honest person, look no further than Boston Dog Lawyers. Attorney Cohen was extremely thorough, knowledgeable, and committed to helping me with my case. More than that, attorney Cohen was incredibly empathetic and supportive throughout my entire time working with him. He helped me to feel empowered throughout the court process, and made me feel heard and validated. I had complete trust in him and his abilities. He helped me set realistic expectations about my case, but still explored every avenue to try and help me reach my desired outcome. I enthusiastically recommend working with Attorney Cohen and his team at Boston Dog Lawyers!" -Chelsea M.


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Condo owners navigating issues with their Homeowners Association (HOA) concerning emotional support animals often encounter a complex interplay of legal, ethical, and personal considerations.


While federal laws like the Fair Housing Act protect the rights of individuals with disabilities to have reasonable accommodations, including emotional support animals, HOA regulations can sometimes clash with these protections. Disputes may arise over whether an animal qualifies as an emotional support animal, the extent of permissible accommodations, and concerns about noise, cleanliness, or potential allergies. Additionally, misunderstandings or biases among HOA board members or neighbors can exacerbate tensions. Finding a balance between respecting the rights of individuals with disabilities and addressing legitimate concerns of other residents is crucial in navigating these emotionally charged situations. Open communication, education about relevant laws and regulations, and mediation can help foster understanding and resolution within the community.

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