Helpful articles to aid Management Companies, Board Members, and Housing Cooperative Professionals in handling complex legal issues.

Michigan Court of Appeals Rules that Trial Courts Are Not to Abandon Their Role As Gatekeepers of Evidence In Considering the Reliability of Evidence Pertaining to Emotional Support Animal Request.

On September 17, 2020, a Michigan Court of Appeals panel unanimously held, in Riverbrook v. Fabode, that trial courts are “… required to consider reliability of methods employed by counselor as expert, as well as her final opinion in letter that tenant required an ESA because of a disability, before determining whether owner of mobile home park had refused to make a reasonable accommodation as required by the FHA.” Riverbrook v Fabode, No. 349065, 2020 WL 5580152 (Mich. Ct. App., Sept. 17, 2020). In Riverbrook, the trial court erroneously rejected the landlord of a mobile home’s evidentiary challenges to the reliability and methods of collection of the tenant’s medical documentation to support ​his reasonable accommodation request for an Emotional Support Animal (“ESA”). Because of the Court of Appeals ruling in Riverbrook, Housing Cooperatives seeking information from members in reasonable accommodation requests for emotional support animals, are now permitted to ask for reliable disability-related information. Although these reasonable accommodation requests should be considered on a “case-by-case” basis, Riverbrook provides additional guidance for what information Cooperatives may seek when considering the request.


Confessions Of A Pet Turned ESA

This is my confession of how I became an ESA and not a pet. I can’t reveal my name, but let’s just say I’m a dog who is pretty good at typing. This a true story. (Just trust me on this.)


Does a Cooperative Have To Let A Guest With A Dog Come On Cooperative Property?

Cooperative Housing organizations and their management companies are often faced with requests from guests to bring dogs and other animals onto the premises when visiting members. What should the cooperatives response be to these requests? In most cases the response will depend on the type of animal or dog involved. Not all animals are created equal according to the law. There are emotional support animals, service animals, and pets. What’s the difference?


Members With Allergies Versus Members With Assistance Animals

The spring, summer and fall often bring Cooperative members out into common hallways, areas, and outdoors. With this activity brings the potential for member conflict.


More Doggone Trouble for Housing Cooperatives

In the past, many cooperative housing providers prohibited pets. This policy resonated with its members who were tired of living next door to other members with barking dogs or caterwauling cats. Yet, federal and state law now require cooperative housing providers allow assistance animals. Assistance animals are animals which a disabled member may keep in a cooperative housing situation, as long as a medical provider is persuaded that the member needs the animal in order to overcome a specific disability and that the animal will ameliorate that disability.


“But I’m allergic to your emotional support dog!” What’s a Board to Do?

It has been years since HUD announced rules defining assistance animals and imposing upon housing providers the duty to accommodate members who request assistance animals in order to overcome their disability. The typical approach is that either the Board or a special committee chosen by the Board reviews and evaluates a member’s request for an assistance animal, sometimes identified as an emotional support animal. They review the application along with an accompanying note from the member’s physician stating that an assistance animal is required and requesting the cooperative to accommodate that request. Most often this means that a cooperative with a “no pets” policy must make exceptions.