Subject: Assessing a Person’s Request to Have an Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Fair Housing Act.
The “Assistance Animals Notice” issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) explains certain obligations of housing providers under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) with respect to animals that individuals with disabilities may request as reasonable accommodations.
On January 28, 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) released Notice FHEO-2020-01, sometimes referred to as the “Assistance Animals Notice.”
This memorandum responds to requests for guidance on how HUD investigators should examine Fair Housing Act "reasonable accommodation" cases where a housing provider cites an insurance policy restriction in denying a request from a person with a disability to reside in a dwelling with an assistance animal that is of a breed of dog that the landlord's insurance carrier considers dangerous. In the referenced cases, the housing providers stated that their insurance carriers will either refuse to cover their properties, substantially increase the cost of coverage, or adversely change the terms of their policies if these animals are allowed to occupy dwellings.
As with any request for a reasonable accommodation, the request should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. HUD provides the following guidance to assist in that evaluation.
This publication provides guidance on the term “service animal” and the service animal provisions in the Department’s new regulations.
The Department of Justice ("DOJ") and the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") are jointly responsible for enforcing the federal Fair Housing Act (the "Act"), which prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, and disability. One type of disability discrimination prohibited by the Act is the refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a person with a disability the equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. HUD and DOJ frequently respond to complaints alleging that housing providers have violated the Act by refusing reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities. This Statement provides technical assistance regarding the rights and obligations of persons with disabilities and housing providers under the Act relating to reasonable accommodations.
Many people with disabilities use a service animal in order to fully participate in everyday life. Dogs can be trained to perform many important tasks to assist people with disabilities, such as providing stability for a person who has difficulty walking, picking up items for a person who uses a wheelchair, preventing a child with autism from wandering away, or alerting a person who has hearing loss when someone is approaching from behind.
The Department of Justice continues to receive many questions about how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to service animals. The ADA requires State and local government agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations (covered entities) that provide goods or services to the public to make "reasonable modifications" in their policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to accommodate people with disabilities. The service animal rules fall under this general principle. Accordingly, entities that have a "no pets" policy generally must modify the policy to allow service animals into their facilities. This publication provides guidance on the ADA's service animal provisions and should be read in conjunction with the publication ADA Revised Requirements: Service Animals.
As a means of providing information or guidance of general applicability to the public, the Real Estate Board and Fair Housing Board issue this guidance document to interpret the requirements of 18 VAC 135-50 (Fair Housing Regulations).
The purpose of this guidance document is to address issues regarding the “verification” of reasonable accommodation requests for assistance animals, particularly those assistance animals that provide emotional support or other seemingly untrained assistance to persons with a disability.