Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved a settlement agreement concerning assistance animals and fees charged to residents. To resolve pending Fair Housing Act (FHA) disability discrimination complaints, the property owners and managers agreed to pay $20,500 to the Nevada housing advocacy group which filed the cases.
The allegations concerned claims that residents who required assistance animals were required to pay a pet deposit fee at three different properties in Nevada. As has been noted in this space (and elsewhere) many times, as a part of a valid reasonable accommodation request for a service or emotional support animal – management must waive any charges or fees typically assessed against pets. Again, assistance animals are not pets and the charges paid by residents with pets should not be collected.
While I know there are always two (if not more) sides to every story, the takeaway for management is simple: professional apartment leasing offices must not charge pet rent or pet fees for service/companion animals. Or you will really need to speak with a lawyer like me. While we can absolutely seek a medical verification for most companion animal requests, once that required is legitimately verified, we need to adjust our rent ledger accounting and welcome the resident (and animal) to our community.
Just A Thought.