Late last month, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) charged a condominium association in New Jersey with disability discrimination in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). According to HUD, the complaint asserts that the condominium required that a resident (with vision and hearing impairments) use the service door (as opposed to the main entrance to the development) when she was accompanied by her assistance animal. Additionally, HUD alleged that the association charged the resident’s daughter a fee because she wanted to walk her mother’s assistance animal in the development’s common areas.

Factually, HUD got the case when the resident’s daughter brought a discrimination complaint asserting that the property declined to waive its requirement that residents transport pets in carriers when in common areas and in that the association fined the resident $100 for walking the animal in the common areas. According to HUD, the daughter primarily walked the dog because of her mother’s mobility impairments and was prohibited from using the main entrance to the community.

While I know there are always two sides to every case, this one at first blush presents facts that just do not look great for the property. We should not restrict assistance animals to service door or back entrances.  Additionally, always remember not to charge your residents any pet fees or pet rent for assistance animals. Remember, legitimate assistance animals are not pets and pet restrictions do not apply.  Although I am not involved here, I suspect the association simply attempted to apply its rules related to pets to this assistance animal.  Which HUD is now contesting violates the FHA.

Just A Thought.