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Kayla can stay, landlord must pay

The landlords of a Boston apartment building have been ordered to pay $25,000 to a tenant with HIV/AIDS for trying to force the man to get rid of his dog.

The ruling,  issued by the  Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, pertained to a mutt named Kayla, who — though not a service dog or a certified therapy dog — provided emotional support to her owner.

The complaint was brought against the owners of the Brighton Gardens building by Richard M. Blake, who was diagnosed with HIV infection more than two decades ago, according to the Boston Globe.

After his diagnosis, Blake isolated himself and rarely left the house.

“He was depressed, basically lounging around the apartment all day long, and his weight rose and blood pressure got out of control,’’ said Denise McWilliams, general counsel for the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts.

Blake’s doctor recommended a dog to help lift Blake’s mood and improve his mental and physical health.

“She’s just given me sort of a routine in my life,’’ Blake said of the boxer mix he got in 2008. “She’s given me a lot of joy. Animals just seem to make it hard for you to be in a bad mood … Ever since I have had her, the walks and the tons of exercise I do with her have helped.’’

Blake said his landlord gave him permission to get the dog, but two months later tenants were notified that a no-pet policy in their leases would be enforced.

After unsuccessful attempts to get the landlords to make an exception, Blake filed a complaint with the state commission in December, 2008.

In its ruling, the commission said that evidence “supports a finding that requiring Complainant to give up his dog would seriously jeopardize his emotional and physical well-being.’’


Comment from smoketoomuch
Time April 6, 2011 at 3:53 pm

The landlord will Appeal – it’s what they do.

Comment from Vonnie
Time April 7, 2011 at 7:22 am

Yeah!!! It’s about time landlords get their due. Yes I’m glad. Too many pets are having to BE LEFT BEHIND because of MEAN and mostly Stupid landlords. I’d rather pay what I could to keep my pet then have to give them up. I’t alright to have a pet deposit but sheesh not exorbitant. Really Do these landloards have too much power and are a cause for MOST of the homeless pets out there.

Comment from mike
Time April 7, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Yes, let’s do away with ALL property rights…landlords DON’T cause homeless pets. People NOT planning cause homeless pets. As a landlord, I saw firsthand what damage pets can do, and it’s more than the security deposit. I feel bad for the sick person whose life was uplifted by the dog, but this ruling is another nail in the coffin of a person’s RIGHT to set rules for the property they OWN. I DO NOT allow pets in my condo, and never will. If someone doesn’t like it, they can find accomodations elsewhere.

Comment from Kelly
Time April 7, 2011 at 7:43 pm

I’m not only heartened that the court ruled in Kayla’s favor, but that a doctor prescribed a dog. I want the name of that doctor!

Comment from megan hamilton
Time April 8, 2011 at 12:28 am

This is one reason I didn’t care for landlords in the U.S. They have stupid attitudes about pets.
None of my landlords here in Costa Rica have ever cared that I have my cats with me. I’m glad he got to keep his dog, and I’m glad his landlords have to fork over $25,000. Way cool.

Comment from Ace Jordan
Time April 8, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Not so much of the ruling, but doesn’t the landlord realize that this animal is more than likely extending the individuals life and this pet I’m sure is loved and bringing happiness in the time of need.

Comment from Smoketoomuch
Time April 8, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Hey Mike, not ALL pets cause property damage, and those that do usually have clueless owners (admittedly, far too large a group). On the other hand, I can understand your position. You can’t accept some pets and not accept others. That would be neither “fair”, nor legal.
In the one apartment complex I lived in that did allow pets, I had to fight a prolonged and expensive chemical war against fleas caused by a totally oblivious neighbor. This whole issue is one of the reasons why I bought my own house (where I have neither fleas, nor pet damage).
In this case however, it seems more than obvious that an exception should have been made for this tenant.
Also, it seems to me that closer scrutiny of the TENANT (and a pet “interview”) would tell an astute landlord whether or not his or her or her pet might be problematical.

Comment from MJC
Time October 19, 2012 at 10:47 pm

I hope the property owner appealed this decision. If the man feels he can’t live without the dog, then he should be required to move to a location that allows dogs. And what kind of quack doctor would “prescribe” a dog? Of course, you can find a quack to prescribe just about anything nowadays. As a propery owner, I’ve seen first-hand the damage a dog can do in just a few days. One of my tenants in a small house I own sneaked in a pit bull and it was a little over a week before a neighbor reported it. During those few days, that monster had totally destroyed the carpets, curtains and screens, and damaged doors, cabinets, baseboards and window sills, plus it had urinated on the floor in one room and it had soaked through to the hardwood floor beneath the carpet. It took thousands to repair the damages done by that fleabag and although I got a judgment against the tenants (whom I evicted) and garnished their wages, they are paying only $122 a month and at that rate, it will take me years to recoup my damages.