Faithful readers of the Fair Housing Defense blog are aware of the explosion in the number of service and/or companion animal requests received by professional apartment management over the past couple of years. As I have written before, management understands our obligation under the law and we work with our disabled residents and applicants to approve their legitimate reasonable accommodation requests.
But, what I am seeing all too often these days, are highly questionable (if not outright false) medical verifications. Indeed, a quick click on your computer can provide a “certification” for Rover or Fluffy for the low, low price of $59.99 (or more). These internet verifications can look official enough, but are typically sold to anyone with a credit card and with no medical diagnosis or treatment plan.
Is anybody listening? Well, yes. The Colorado House just passed a bill under which fake service animal requests would be criminalized, in a similar manner in that taking a disabled parking space is punished – a $33 surcharge along with a fine of $350 to $1,000 for a first offense and higher fines for repeat offenders.
Again, these false certifications do a real disservice to those disabled Americans with legitimate service and companion animals. If your animal is a pet and you want to live in my apartment community, just pay the pet fee. Don’t try to scam the system. It is just not worth it. And if this Colorado bill passes the state Senate, it will be against the law.
In the interim, leasing office team members, management company legal departments, and lawyers like me will continue reviewing and responding to these service/companion animal requests as best we can.
Just A Thought.