Aspen couple to get $50K after dog housing lawsuit

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ASPEN |  The U.S. attorney’s office has ordered an Aspen-area homeowner’s association to pay $50,000 to a couple after they violated the Fair Housing Act by failing to allow a woman to stay in the complex with her emotional support dog.

A judge approved a consent order resolving the dispute between Creekside Condominium Homeowner’s Association and Creekside owner Jason Neilson and his partner Kirsten Swick, The Aspen Times reports.

The argument was over whether Swick’s emotional support dog met the association’s criteria for reasonable accommodation against its no-dogs policy, officials said.

The order also requires the association to also participate in Fair Housing Act training and adopt new accommodation and animal assistance policies and guidelines, court officials said.

The violation started when Neilson and Swick sent a letter in 2016 from a physician to the board stating Swick needed an emotional support dog as part of her treatment for depression and anxiety, officials said.

According to court documents, Swick was denied reasonable accommodation, even after providing further documentation as requested by the board. When attorneys threatened to sue, the board reversed their decision and granted Swick’s request, documents said.

The homeowner’s association board had no comment Thursday as board protocol requires its members to meet as a whole before issuing any statement. Neilson and Swick could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Betsy Crum, director of the housing department in Snowmass, said Thursday she was unaware of the issue at Creekside Condominiums and said the Creekside association was in charge of rules and regulations for the complex’s deed-restricted owners.