Fair Housing vs. Unfair Housing

Do you know the difference?

Knowing the difference between fair housing and unfair housing isn't as obvious as you might think. This blog aims to present a variety of important and interesting fair housing issues.

If you're an apartment professional, avoid costly mistakes by reading the stories of others who — even with good intentions — learned compliance lessons the hard way. (For the easy way, click here.)

If you live in an apartment, get familiar with your rights when it comes to housing discrimination, as well as your options for seeking justice.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Landlord Puts No-Pets Policy Above the Law

Many landlords have a no-pets policy at their properties, or they have rules limiting the types of pets allowed. This is perfect legal. However, what many landlords don't know is that they must let tenants keep service animals in their apartments when needed as a reasonable accommodation for a disability. This means their policy is still valid, but they should be prepared to make an exception, if warranted, to comply with the Fair Housing Act's (FHA) ban against disability-based discrimination.

Landlords who aren't familiar with the FHA's reasonable accommodations requirement or who don't understand how it may affect their pet policy often go head-to-head with prospects and tenants, insisting on what they believe are their rights while getting themselves deeper into fair housing trouble.

A recent example shows how this plays out.

The owner and manager of a trailer park in Lakeland, Washington advertised apartments with a no-pets policy. A local non-profit fair housing organization sent testers posing as prospects who need service dogs for a disability respond to the ad. More than once, the owner told the testers no dogs are allowed. After the testers explained the dogs were service animals and needed a reasonable accommodation, the owner and manager still refused. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Charge of Discrimination, the manager argued that "if one tenant has an animal everyone will want one" and also expressed concern that animals will destroy the property.

The owner and manager will now have a chance to argue their case in from of a HUD administrative law judge.

1 comment:

Richard Burton said...

iedFrom my understanding service animals do not have to be registered as such. Who determines if an animal is truly a service animal or comfort animal? It is easy to determine a seeing eye dog, not so easy in other cases

Recently I read of a case where prospective tenants application was denied because his dog was considered a dangerous breed by the owners insurance company however the owner was sued because the dangerous breed was the prospects comfort animal.

How do you balance the two?