- For Attorneys
You may need to get a note stating that the dog performs a special function that alleviates your symptoms. The Fair Housing Act provides protections for “service animals” (such as seeing eye dogs) and “companion animals” that are related to a medical condition, and a homeowners association cannot prevent you from having a legitimate “service animal” or “companion animal.”
A person with a disability may have the right to ask for reasonable accommodations in housing matters. The answer may depend in part on whether you qualify as a disabled person within the meaning of the Fair Housing Act and the role the dog plays in allowing you to deal with your disability.
In one case, the plaintiffs claimed that a requirement that the dogs at issue are properly trained, certified, licensed, and an authorization request from a physician specializing in the field of the subject disability be produced was a violation of the Fair Housing Act. The court held that “a requirement that a service dog be ‘properly trained’ does not conflict with federal or state law.” The court further stated that the Fair Housing Act does not require “professional training,” but it recognized that “some type of training is necessary to transform a pet into a service animal.” Regarding the certification requirement, the court noted that there were “no uniform standards or credentialing criteria applied to all service animals or service animal trainers.” However, the court ruled that a tenant should make a bona fide effort to locate a certifying authority. The court upheld the physician authorization requirement as reasonable.
Please see the following CA statute which classifies bipolar as a disability:
12926.1. The Legislature finds and declares as follows:
(a) The law of this state in the area of disabilities provides
protections independent from those in the federal Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336). Although the federal
act provides a floor of protection, this state's law has always, even
prior to passage of the federal act, afforded additional
(b) The law of this state contains broad definitions of physical
disability, mental disability, and medical condition. It is the
intent of the Legislature that the definitions of physical disability
and mental disability be construed so that applicants and employees
are protected from discrimination due to an actual or perceived
physical or mental impairment that is disabling, potentially
disabling, or perceived as disabling or potentially disabling.
(c) Physical and mental disabilities include, but are not limited
to, chronic or episodic conditions such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis,
epilepsy, seizure disorder, diabetes, clinical depression, bipolar
disorder, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease. In addition, the
Legislature has determined that the definitions of "physical
disability" and "mental disability" under the law of this state
require a "limitation" upon a major life activity, but do not
require, as does the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, a
"substantial limitation." This distinction is intended to result in
broader coverage under the law of this state than under that federal
act. Under the law of this state, whether a condition limits a major
life activity shall be determined without respect to any mitigating
measures, unless the mitigating measure itself limits a major life
activity, regardless of federal law under the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990. Further, under the law of this state,
"working" is a major life activity, regardless of whether the actual
or perceived working limitation implicates a particular employment or
a class or broad range of employments.
(d) Notwithstanding any interpretation of law in Cassista v.
Community Foods (1993) 5 Cal.4th 1050, the Legislature intends (1)
for state law to be independent of the Americans with Disabilities
Act of 1990, (2) to require a "limitation" rather than a "substantial
limitation" of a major life activity, and (3) by enacting paragraph
(4) of subdivision (i) and paragraph (4) of subdivision (k) of
Section 12926, to provide protection when an individual is
erroneously or mistakenly believed to have any physical or mental
condition that limits a major life activity.
(e) The Legislature affirms the importance of the interactive
process between the applicant or employee and the employer in
determining a reasonable accommodation, as this requirement has been
articulated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in its
interpretive guidance of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.