USA Service Dog Registration is committed to helping educate landlords about their rights as well as potential tenants or current tenants prescribed Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals. We want to help you to understand how you can verify a letter without violating the Fair Housing Act (a federal law that protects people from discrimination when they are renting, buying, or securing financing for any housing).
It is unlawful for a housing provider to refuse to rent or sell to a person simply because of a disability.
A housing provider may not impose a different application or qualification criteria for those with mental or physical disabilities.
The rental fees, sales price, or rental terms or conditions cannot differ from those required by non-disabled persons.
When a person with a disability believes that they have been subjected to a discriminatory housing practice, including a provider’s wrongful denial of a request for reasonable accommodation, they may file a complaint with HUD within one year after the alleged denial or may file a lawsuit in a federal district court within two years of the alleged denial. If a complaint is filed with HUD, HUD will investigate the complaint at no cost to the person with a disability.
If their case goes to an administrative hearing, HUD attorneys will litigate the case on their behalf. An Administrative Law Judge (ALA) will consider evidence from them and the respondent. If the ALA decides that discrimination occurred, the respondent can be ordered:
According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), “breed, size, and weight limitations may not be applied to an assistance animal.”
Instead, a housing provider may only determine if the specific assistance animal in question poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others.
This determination of a “direct threat” must be based on “individualized assessment that relies on objective evidence about the specific animal’s actual conduct.” It may not be based on fears about a certain type of animal or evidence from damage done by previous animals of the same type.
For example, if a dog has been previously declared a dangerous dog, this may indicate that the dog poses a direct threat in an individualized assessment. However, breed alone will not result in this determination.
Could the owner’s emotional support dog breed be a liability?
An insurance company may label certain breeds of dogs as “dangerous” in its policy. Each reasonable accommodation determination must be made on a case-by-case basis. An accommodation is considered unreasonable if it imposes an undue financial and administrative burden on a housing provider’s operations.
If a housing provider’s insurance carrier would cancel, substantially increase the costs of the insurance policy, or adversely change the policy terms because of the presence of a certain breed of dog or a certain animal, HUD will find that this imposes an undue financial and administrative burden on the housing provider.
This claim must then be substantiated with the insurance company directly and comparable insurance coverage must be considered. If the insurance company has a policy that does not have an exception for an assistance animal, an investigation may be launched against the insurance company for potential disability discrimination.
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