Calif. Community Pays $40K to Settle Case Involving Emotional Support Animal

The owners of a California community recently agreed to pay $40,000 to resolve allegations of disability discrimination in violation of state fair housing law, according to an announcement by the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).

The lawsuit accused the community of denying the reasonable accommodation requests of a mother and daughter, both with disabilities, who requested a reasonable accommodation to keep an emotional support animal in their unit. According to the complaint, the residents made written requests supported by medical documentation attesting their need for an assistance animal, but the landlord refused to consider the requests because their doctor’s note did not state that they needed a dog “to survive.” The complaint also accused the landlord of retaliating against them by issuing them a notice terminating their tenancy.

“The law is clear that the use of an assistance animal can be a reasonable accommodation for a disability,” DFEH Director Kevin Kish said in a statement. “Landlords have a duty to engage in the interactive process when a tenant requests a reasonable accommodation for a disability, and those who refuse to do so because the requested accommodation involves an animal are in violation of the law.”