In many cases, an association will seek a Court Order to enforce its rules and regulations.  In those cases, the association asks a Judge to order the unit owner to stop doing something that they are not allowed to do, or to make some sort of change to comply with association governing documents or rules and regulations.  Since the association is asking the Judge to require a specific behavior, it needs to be sure that it asks for exactly what it wants. 
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I have written a number of times on this blog about providing reasonable accommodations for “service animals” and “emotional support animals.”  This legal battle continues to affect condominium and homeowner association communities.  A recent case shows a new way that a condominium association could get in trouble for refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation: because of a neighbor’s blog post.

Estate of Walters v. Cowpet Bay West Condominium Association, begins with the “usual” issue.  Two condominium unit owners sought to keep “emotional support dogs” in the condominium.  The condominium’s rules absolutely banned pets.  In this case, the Court determined that the unit owners were disabled, and that the support animals were necessary to allow them the use and enjoyment of the condominium unit.  Because of this, the condominium association was required to make a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act.

The concerning part of this case arises from the blog of some disgruntled neighbors.  The opinion from the United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, quoted a number of blog posts from residents of the community that opposed the emotional support dogs.  One neighbor replied on a blog post “isolate them [the unit owners] completely to their little “dog patch” on the beach and ignore them at every venue or occasion!”
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Aaron Marines was a recent contributor to the January/February 2017 issue of Community Assets bi-monthly magazine for the Pennsylvania and Delaware Valley Chapter of Community Associations Institute.

“Associations are often faced with the question of whether they need to ignore their dog rules for an “emotional support animal.”  Many boards are surprised to learn that

Recently a property management company was charged with wire fraud for its actions in managing a San Diego, California association.  The property manager was directed to obtain bids for a construction project. According to the criminal indictment, the property manager concealed all of the lowest bids.  Because of this, his affiliated company turned out to have the lowest bid on the project.

According to the indictment, the property manager’s actions get worse.  During the construction, the property manager discovered asbestos that needed to be removed. He negotiated a change order from his Association Board – and an increased amount for the project – for this asbestos removal.  He then concealed the presence of asbestos from the people doing the job. That way, the property manager collected all of the extra asbestos removal fee, while the construction workers removed the asbestos without following the proper procedures.

The property management company and its principal have been charged with four counts of federal wire fraud.  This indictment carries a maximum penalty of twenty years in prison and a $250,000.00 fine.  In addition, the indictment seeks the recovery of $247,000.00, the cost of the construction project.
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