HOUSING RIGHTS – NO PET POLICY
If a person is physically impaired (disabled) and has individually trained service dog to perform a major life task that the person has trouble performing for him or herself (or an emotional support animal prescribed by a licensed mental health professional), the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 requires the landlord/property manager to make a reasonable accommodation to their policies and allow the tenant to have an emotional support animal. This includes species, breed, and weight policies.
That means if they have a “cats only” policy, they must accept your service dog. If they have a policy that allows dogs weighing no more than 30 lbs. and your emotional support animal (ESA) weighs 75 lbs., they must make a change in the rules to accommodate you. If they accept all dogs, except pit bulls, and you have a pit bull, they must allow your pit bull to reside with you.
Property managers/landlords are NOT required to make a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act for ESAs or Service Animals in these cases:
- Buildings with 4 or less units where the landlord occupies one of the units
- Single family housing sold or rented without a real estate broker
- Hotels and Motels are not considered dwellings under the FHA but are considered places of public accommodation under the Americans with
- Disabilities Act
- Private Clubs
- Ask a tenant to pay a deposit, fee, or surcharge in exchange for having a service or emotional support animal, even if they require such a practice from owners who wish to obtain pets in their dwelling.
- Require that an emotional support animal have any specific training
- Require the emotional support animal to wear or carry any special collar, harness, vest, emblem, or other means of identifying it as such.
- Inquire about the extent of the disability, or ask for detailed medical records for the individual requesting the service or emotional support animal.
- Refuse to accommodate you and your animal because their insurance policy won’t allow a species, breed, or weight. They are still subject to the law.
- A person with a disability may, however, be charged for damages caused to the premises by their emotional support or service animal.
- A disabled person who does not properly manage his/her unruly, destructive, aggressive, or disturbance causing animal can be evicted.
What To Do When a Property Manager Refuses To Comply
Failure to accommodate a physically or emotionally impaired person is a violation of federal law and can be successfully sued AND the landlord/property manager financially penalized by the U.S. Justice Dept. because it is considered discrimination against a disabled person. Something the government takes seriously.
- Clients are encouraged to make sure the landlord or property manager are clearly aware of the law and consequences to help them avoid prosecution and punitive damages. Most are in violation simply because they do not know the law. The U.S. Justice Dept. does not consider the property manager’s lack of awareness when they prosecute them, however.
- A client can report the landlord/property manager to the U.S. Justice Dept. and file a complaint for discrimination.
- A client may sue the landlord/property manager for discrimination.