By David Heymsfeld, AAPD Policy Advisor
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development recently began a series of cases against property owners and condominium associations for applying “no pet” rules to prevent persons with disabilities from using service animals or emotional support animals on the property.
The cases were brought under the Fair Housing Act which requires that in the sale or rental of housing there must be reasonable accommodations necessary to afford equal housing opportunity for persons with disabilities.
According to HUD Assistant Secretary John Trasvina , HUD interprets the law as requiring the honoring of “requests for animals like service dogs if a person with a disability requires that dog for daily life activities. In these cases, people with disabilities are not seeking special treatment: they are seeking the equal opportunity to enjoy their dwelling just as anyone else can”
The practices challenged in the cases include:requiring residents with assistance animals to use service elevators; requiring burdensome medical documentation of the need for a service or emotional support animal;and refusing to allow a tenant to be visited by a friend with an emotional support animal.
The cases may result in the property owners being ordered to pay fines and attorney”s fees.