A landlord who told a woman with an assistance animal she could not rent an apartment because there was a no-pet policy due to new hardwood floors, has settled a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
HUD said in a release the conciliation agreement was between Delta House Investments, LLC in Reno, Nevada, and Premier Realty, Inc., of Carson City, Nevada, and a prospective tenant to resolve allegations that they denied the applicant’s request to have an assistance animal.
Under the terms of the agreement, respondents will pay the woman $6,000 and obtain fair housing training and adopt reasonable accommodation policies that assess requests on a timely basis and maintain records related to such requests.
“The agreement is the result of a complaint a woman filed with HUD alleging that Delta House Investments and Premier Realty denied her request to keep an assistance animal in the apartment she was attempting to rent, even though she provided documentation from her doctor attesting to her need for the animal due to her disability
“According to the woman’s complaint, the leasing agent told her that the owner did not allow pets because the floors had been recently upgraded to hardwood. After that interaction, the woman did not pursue the rental,” according to the release.
“Forcing persons with disabilities to live without the assistance animals they depend on denies them the opportunity to fully enjoy their home,” Anna María Farías, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in the release.
“This case was resolved quickly and represents our continued commitment to protecting the rights of persons who require such accommodations and ensuring that housing providers meet their obligation to comply with the nation’s fair housing laws.”
Assistance animal discrimination and disability
Disability is the most common basis of fair housing complaint filed with HUD and its partner agencies. Last year alone, HUD and its partners considered over 4,900 disability-related complaints, or more than 58 percent of all fair housing complaints that were filed.
HUD writes in the notice that, “An assistant animal is not a pet. It is an animal that works, provides assistance or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. Assistance animals perform many disability-related functions, including but not limited to, guiding individuals who are blind or have low vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to sounds, providing protection or rescue assistance, pulling a wheelchair, fetching items, alerting persons to impending seizures, or providing emotional support to persons with disabilities who have a disability-related need for such support. For purposes of reasonable accommodation requests, neither the FHAct nor Section 504 requires an assistance animal to be individually trained or certified.”
HUD assistance animal guidelines
“Housing providers are to evaluate a request for a reasonable accommodation to possess an assistance animal in a dwelling using the general principles applicable to all reasonable accommodation requests. After receiving such a request, the housing provider must consider the following:
- Does the person seeking to use and live with the animal have a disability — i.e., a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities?
- Does the person making the request have a disability-related need for an assistance animal? In other words, does the animal work, provide assistance, perform tasks or services for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provide emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms of a person’s existing disability?
If the answer to those two questions is “yes,” then the housing provider is to modify or provide an exception to a “no pets” policy.
More on pet discrimination and pet-friendly apartments
For more information, read our story 7 Questions Landlords Have About Pets and Pet-Friendly Apartments.
You can also download our eBook here, The Landlord’s Free Guide To Pets And Pet-Friendly Apartments.