guest blog by Deborah Goonan
Not a week goes by that we don’t learn of yet another Fair Housing lawsuit, usually involving discrimination on the basis of disability. This time, the Condo Association will have to answer to two lawsuits, one filed by the owner of a condo unit, and the other by his former tenant.
The latest report comes from Aspen View Condominiums in Colorado. Natasha MacArthur leased one of the 18 units from condo owner Alvara Arnal, beginning in November 2013. MacArthur has a golden retriever, and claims her dog, Stevie Nicks, helps her cope with a seizure disorder.
The condo association forbids dogs, but MacArthur claims her pet is a service animal, and that the association is obligated under Fair Housing law to provide reasonable accommodation to allow Stevie Nicks to reside with her.
According to a report in the Aspen Times, MacArthur provided documentation of her disability from a physician, as well as documentation from the organization that trained the dog as a service animal. The former (now deceased) president of the association interviewed MacArthur in her home for 45 minutes. But the association was still not satisfied that the information provided was sufficient to allow the dog to remain.
Aspen View COA then began fining owner Arnal $50 per day in January 2014. MacArthur moved out of the unit in March 2014, prior to the end of her lease.
Arnal was hit with $1435 in fines, plus $4234 in attorney fees in June. A lien was placed on his unit in July 2014.
In addition to MacArthur’s Fair Housing complaint, Arnal has filed suit against the association and its management company, alleging discrimination, retaliation, and interference with a contract.
The remaining 17 owners of Aspen View better open up their wallets. These two lawsuits will probably cost them a great deal of money in legal expenses and the eventual settlements.
For readers interested in learning more about service animals for people with seizure disorders, I have provided some additional links.