As apartment management company employees review and evaluate reasonable accommodation and reasonable modification requests, there are many times in which the leasing office believes it needs supplemental information in order to confirm that a resident’s request is indeed reasonable and comports with the law. In seeking additional information (such as in a circumstance in which a resident has provided a medical verification for an emotional support animal which appears to have been purchased over the internet), however, there are a number of questions management cannot ask. Remember, we are not seeking detailed medical records or confidential health care information. Indeed, I was involved in one situation in which a treating physician’s office sent over patient medical records. I had the records sent back with a short note.
Examples of questions that should not be asked (and this list is not exhaustive) include:
*You don’t look like you need an assistance animal. Why do you have one?
*Why do you receive social security disability benefits?
*What medication do you take to treat your disability?
*Can you walk up and down the stairs on your own? What health care records do you have to back that up?
When we receive a request, the leasing office simply seeks legitimate information which confirms a disability (if the disability is not apparent) and provides a nexus (legalese for a link) between the disability and the requested accommodation or modification. Also, remember that while we will work to approve service and emotional support animal requests, an assistance animal can be excluded from an apartment community when that animal’s behavior constitutes a “direct threat” to other residents, the property, or to leasing office employees and the resident takes no effective action to control the animal’s behavior such that the direct threat is eliminated or at least mitigated.
Just A Thought.