As an experienced Trial Attorney with offices near Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Aventura, I have helped many Condo Owners and Homeowners resolve disputes that they have with their Associations, Board Members, Property Managers and with other owners. I have handled all types of cases from water and mold damage due to association failure to maintain common elements and personal injury claims in common areas to arbitrary and selective enforcement claims, improper leasing restrictions, tortious interference with owner’s right to sell or rent, interference with an owner’s quiet use and enjoyment, noise complaints and harassment by board members and property management. The one area that I find the most gratifying is helping fellow pet owners that are faced with pet restrictions at their association.
As an animal lover and owner of 2 dalmatians I often joke with my friends that “nobody loves you like your dog.” That saying couldn’t be more true. When I come home from a long day at the office or in court, my three boys are usually upstairs fighting over the right to share each other’s Playstation games. My wife is helping the kids or trying to get dinner ready or cleaned up (if I am really late). I always walk in and go over to the kitchen counter to charge my cell phone and go through the mail. The only ones that always come to greet me are my two dalmatians, Jimmy and Lucy. I immediately smile and my mood begins to lighten. Jimmy usually puts his two paws up on the counter and nudges his face under my arm as I check the mail. He wags his tail furiously and even smiles (yes it’s true dogs can smile!) at me. Lucy tries to worm her way in by getting under Jimmy and slowly moves out in an attempt to dislodge him from the counter to get my attention. Of course I will pet Jimmy but as soon as I stop to continue going though the mail he will gently place his paw over my hand to remind me to pet him. This happens every single day without fail and no matter how hard my day was or how preoccupied my thoughts were with the stress of daily life, my spirits suddenly become lifted. My mind and body become relaxed and I am immediately happy and at peace. If my two dogs can do this for me imagine how helpful an emotional support animal or service dog can be to someone with a real disability.
For a person with a real disability to receive a letter from their association threatening them with fines or an injuction if they don’t remove their “pet,” the walls can quickly come crashing down. Unfortunately, many Association Board Members and Property Managers aren’t aware of the fact that Association Pet Restrictions simply don’t apply to Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs. In fact, the laws require these communities to make reasonable accommodations for these individuals and their animals. A failure of the Association to make reasonable accommodations coupled with threats of fines or legal action can be considered to be unlawful coercion, intimidation or harassment, subjecting the Association to claims for compensatory damages, attorney fees and even claims for punitive damages.
Please take the time to read some of the heartwarming stories to see how truly remarkable these animals can be to someone with a disability. Read the story written by Wallis Brozman that was posted by Al Britain, a volunteer for Canine Companions for Independence. This is a truly heartwarming story about how woman suffering from a debilitating disease of dystonia was not only saved by her dog Caspin but was also comforted and nurtured back to health.
If you or somebody you love has a service animal or emotional support animal and your Condo Association has not made reasonable accommodations for you or worse, is trying to enforce Pet Restrictions that don’t apply to your animal, you need to contact us to discuss your rights. In most cases you could be entitled to damages, as well as, reimbursement of your Attorney’s Fees and expenses.
The Law Offices of Herb M. Milgrim, P.A. is a Florida Law Firm that represents Condo Owners, Homeowners and Cooperative Owners that have disputes or are contemplating Litigation or a Lawsuit against their Association. Don’t try to deal with the matter on your own. Seek out legal advice from an experienced Attorney that focuses on helping condo owners. Your Association keeps expensive Florida Law Firms on Retainer so they can fight and delay your claim and they pay these expensive Law Firms with your money. Contact us now and find out if you have a case.