First, let me go off topic for a minute to wish everyone a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday. As I do once a year, I want to give a special shout out to my wife (Hi Sweetie!) to see if she actually reads these posts.
Assistance animal questions continue to dominate reader comments here at the Fair Housing Defense blog. As such, let me highlight a handful of points that regularly come up:
- Breed, size, and weight limitations may not be applied to an assistance animal (as they can be for pets).
- A determination that an assistance animal poses a direct threat of harm to others or would cause substantial physical damage to the property must be based on an individualized assessment that relies on objective evidence about the specific animal’s actual conduct — not on mere speculation or fear about the types of harm or damage an animal may cause and not on evidence about harm or damage that other animals have caused.
- Housing providers may ask individuals with disabilities that are not readily apparent to submit reliable documentation of the disability and the disability-related need for an assistance animal.
- Additionally, if a disability is not readily apparent, the leasing office may confirm that the need for the assistance animal continues. I do not suggest management check every three months, but around the time of an annual lease renewal could make sense.
- While the typical request is for one assistance animal, the law recognizes there may be circumstances in which an individual requires more than one animal. In such a circumstance, the nexus for each animal can be verified.
- Conditions and restrictions that housing providers apply to pets may not be applied to assistance animals. For example, while housing providers may require applicants or residents to pay a pet deposit and pet rent, they may not require applicants or residents to pay a deposit for an assistance animal.
- Animal owners must, however, ensure their animals stay under control at all times and clean up after the animals.
Hope that helps. Enjoy time with family and friends this long weekend.
Just A Thought.