—Concerned in Cicero
“What considerations should the board make with respect to the unit owners request?” says attorney Charles Keough, an attorney and partner with the law firm of Keough & Moody in Naperville. “1) Is the unit owner disabled according to the FHA definition, i.e., does the unit owner have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities?
“2) Is the service animal necessary to afford the handicapped person the equal opportunity to use their dwelling? Does the animal serve a function directly related to the unit owner’s disability? Can the unit owner provide medical documentation to the Board that the dog is needed to accommodate the disability?
“3) Is the service animal a reasonable accommodation? I will presume from the question that the board and the owner came to terms on those items. Next, how specifically does the dog’s conduct amount to a nuisance? The owner’s explanation and the board’s letter do not seem to match up factually.
“Did the board cite specifics so that the owner is made aware of the complaints lodged about the dog? What is the nature of the excessive noise- is it related to barking, running, causing damage? Is this the board’s first notice to the owner about such noise? If the owner is made aware of the complaints, the owner may take steps to curtail the disruption. Does the board field complaints from owners about other noise violations emanating from other units and if so, what action has the board taken?
“In short, until the parties have had an opportunity to exchange facts about the dog’s conduct, I think that the owner need not yet worry about losing the right to maintain the dog.”