Legal Question in Disability Law in Georgia

We are trying to acquire a dog to be trained as a service dog for our two children, both with documented disabilities. Our landlord initially agreed, then decided to try to impose large fees, etc., to let us have the dog, AND require an extension on our lease. Georgia statute reads as follows:

30-4-3. Renting, leasing, or purchasing housing accommodations; use of guide or service dogs

(a) Blind persons, visually disabled persons, physically disabled persons, and deaf persons shall be entitled to rent, lease, or purchase, as other members of the general public, all housing accommodations offered for rent, lease, or other compensation in this state, subject to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable alike to all persons.

(b) Every totally or partially blind person, every physically disabled person, and every deaf person who has a guide dog or service dog or who obtains a guide dog or service dog and every person engaged in the training of a guide dog or service dog shall be entitled to full and equal access to all housing accommodations provided for in this Code section, and he or she shall not be required to pay extra compensation for such guide dog or service dog. However, he or she shall be liable for any damage done to the premises by such guide dog or service dog.

(c) Nothing in this Code section shall require any person renting, leasing, or otherwise providing real property for compensation to modify his or her property in any way or provide a higher degree of care for a blind, visually disabled, physically disabled, or deaf person than for a person who is not so disabled.

30-4-4. Violations

Any person, firm, corporation, or the agent of any person, firm, or corporation who denies or interferes with admittance to or enjoyment of the facilities enumerated in this chapter or otherwise interferes with the rights of a totally or partially blind person, physically disabled person, or deaf person or person engaged in the training or raising of a guide dog or service dog as provided by this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $2,000.00, imprisonment for not more than 30 days, or both.

So can they force an extension of the lease or deny us the animal? I would think we would fall under the "training or raising of a guide dog or service dog". Could we be evicted for bringing the animal into the home? It is a single family residence, and the owners do own and rent out other properties, as well, where they have allowed dogs.

Asked on 2/22/13, 5:58 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Lisa Golan Lisa B. Golan, Attorney at Law
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Your post was unclear as to whether you were going to obtain a service dog already trained to assist individuals with disabilities or if you yourself intended to train the dog and your qualifications to do so. You also did not specify the manner in which the dog would assist your children with their disabilities. All of these are potentially relevant to your rights and responsibilities. In addition to the Georgia statute you cited, you may want to review guidance on the use of assistance animals under the Fair Housing Act. See http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/library/huddojstatement.pdf.

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3/01/13, 1:09 pm

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