Your humble Fair Housing Defense blog editor appreciated hearing from a number of you concerning the new HUD guidance addressing reasonable accommodation requests for animals under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). In response to your requests, here are a few more thoughts on the guidance:
*As of January 2020, assistance animal complaints now make up almost 60% of all FHA cases and the number of reasonable accommodation requests for assistance animals continues to increase.
*HUD is mindful that some people with pets are attempting to use the FHA to avoid pet rent and fees.
*Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), a “service animal” is any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Other species of animals (whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained) are not service animals.
*If the animal is not a dog, while it may not be a “service animal” under this definition, it may still be another type of assistance animal for which a reasonable accommodation is needed.
*For non-observable disabilities, a housing provider may request information regarding both the disability and the disability-need for the animal.
*While HUD lists a number of medical conditions that “in virtually all cases” are found to result in a determination that the individual is disabled, this does not mean that conditions omitted from HUD’s guidance are not disabilities. In other words, there is no “magic list” containing every possible eligible disability.
*In HUD’s experience, documentation (such as certificates, registrations, and licensing) purchased over the internet by anyone who answers certain questions and/or participates in a short interview are not “sufficient to reliably establish that an individual has a non-observable disability or disability-related need” for an assistance animal.
*Nevertheless, HUD contends that there indeed are “legitimate, licensed health care professionals” who “deliver services remotely, including over the internet.”
*If a resident or applicant seeks approval for more than one assistance animal, the person will need to show a disability-related need for each animal.
*Housing providers may not require use of a particular form for a medical verification. Nor can housing providers require that a medical verification be notarized or made under penalty of perjury.
*As a best practice, HUD suggests that a “reasonable time” to respond to a reasonable accommodation request is 10 days following receipt of the medical verification.
Hope these help. Just A Thought.