Emotional Support Animals: Do Goldfish Qualify?

I previously blogged about an emotional support peacock that was removed from a commercial airline flight. In recent news, a homeowner is challenging an association’s demand that she remove elevated goldfish ponds in the front yard of her home. https://www.theindychannel.com/news/local-news/johnson-county/homeowner-selling-home-moving-out-amid-spat-with-hoa-over-goldfish-in-driveway

According to the article, the homeowner claims that the goldfish provide her with emotional support for her disability. The association has asked her to move the ponds to a location on her property not visible from the street, but the homeowner has refused since it currently houses her emotional support miniature pony. It is not clear from the article whether the association is suggesting that the goldfish be moved to provide an accommodation under the Fair Housing Act or whether there is no violation of the covenants by maintaining them in a location not visible from the street.  Regardless, it feels that this homeowner has gone a bit too far. Currently, the Fair Housing Act provides that it is unlawful to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services when the accommodation may be necessary to afford a disabled person an equal opportunity to use and enjoy his/her home or unit.  In order to demonstrate that an accommodation is necessary, there must be an identifiable relationship between the requested accommodation and disability.  Making this determination is not always ‘black and white’ so it is recommended that you consult with your association’s attorney if you receive a request for an accommodation from a homeowner.

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