By W. Alexander Noland, Esq., SwedelsonGottlieb Associate Attorney
There tends to be a great deal of confusion over service, companion and therapy animals, and, particularly, service, companion and therapy dogs. While the Americans with Disabilities Act does not generally apply to community associations unless an association opens its common areas and recreational facilities to the general public (e.g. allowing people other than residents and their guests to use the association’s pool, rent the association’s clubhouse or take lessons at the association’s tennis court), state and federal fair housing laws do apply to community associations. Association boards and managers should be aware that homeowners do have the right, subject to certain restrictions, to bring service, companion and therapy dogs into their separate interests, even when those dogs violate pet restrictions contained in an association’s governing documents (e.g. keeping or bringing the dog into the association’s development violates restrictions on the number of dogs, dog weight limits or dog breeds).