HUD Rules Tenant Can Keep Emotional Support Dog in Legal Aid case
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2015

Edwin Vega, a Staff Attorney in the Harlem Community Law Office, was successful in his representation of a West Side tenant who fought to keep his emotional support dog  in a no-pet apartment.

The tenant, Moses Romatski, who is an actor/singer, has Shelly, a 4-year-old wire-haired dachshund, who was prescribed by his doctor.  He had her officially declared an emotional support animal on the National Animal Service Registry.  “He has a psychiatric condition,” Vega said. “He needs Shelly.” Vega said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development leveled a charge of discrimination and violation of the Fair Housing Act against the landlord.

 

 

 

CBS2 Exclusive: Man Claims Discrimination After Building Rejects Therapy Dog

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — City apartment buildings with strict no-pet policies have been told they had better make exceptions for certain therapy animals, or else risk massive fines and even big money  damages.

As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported exclusively Tuesday, an alleged dog discrimination case on the West Side has a tenant battling to keep both his emotional support animal and his subsidized apartment.

Shelly, a 4-year-old wire-haired dachshund, is considered more than a best friend  for actor/singer Moses Romatski.

“She made my life much, much better,” Romatski said.

He says she’s his medicine.

“That was after Lexapro and Prozac and Zoloft — it didn’t work,” Romatski said.

Romatski got the dog in 2012, and said she was prescribed his doctor. He had her officially declared an emotional support animal on the National Animal Service  Registry only a month later.

But his landlords at Friedman Residences, an 30-story tower the West Side, said no right away.

“They told me to get rid of the dog, and I said, ‘No, she’s a registered an emotional support animal,’ and I brought them all the paperwork,” Romatski said. “They said no.”

But Romatski’s attorney, Edwin Vega, said his client needs the dog.

“He has a psychiatric condition,” Vega said. “He needs Shelly.”

Vega said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development leveled a charge of discrimination and violation of the Fair Housing Act against Friedman Residence LLC, Common Ground Management  Corporation, and The Actors’ Fund of America.

All three have been hit with fines.

But the case isn’t over yet. Attorneys for the building filed an appeal and want a judge to toss the discrimination charge.

Jeanne-Marie Williams, a lawyer representing Common Ground Management, sent CBS2 this statement:

“The tenant has been permitted to keep his dog throughout the investigation and the Residence is not actively pursuing eviction. While one tenant with a disability may be soothed by a dog, another tenant may experience anxiety around animals.”

The next stop is U.S. District court, where Romatski, his lawyers and HUD attorneys said they will argue no landlord has the right to decide if a tenant really needs a Shelly or not.