Q: Our condo documents have a weight limit for pets. Recently, a tenant moved in with a large dog that clearly exceeds the weight limit. The tenant claims that the dog is a service animal and not a pet. The tenant has no obvious handicap and many residents are concerned that the tenant is taking advantage of discrimination laws. Should the association do something here?
A: This is a popular topic in community associations, and because of the sensitive nature of the issue there can be much confusion. In a perfect world, the tenant would have asked the association for a waiver of the weight limit before moving into the community. The association could have asked for the proper information to evaluate the tenant’s medical need for this animal and made a decision in accordance with fair housing laws. However, when the animal is already in the community raising eyebrows, it puts the association in a tough situation. We do not recommend demanding the immediate removal of the animal. Rather, the association should send the tenant and the unit owner a notice regarding the weight limit and request documentation showing that the animal is medically necessary. The association’s legal counsel can provide guidance on what medical information can be requested.