The Fair Housing Act and Service Animals

Posted by Pam Blanton on May 11, 2010

From Disability.Blog By Guest Blogger Bryan Greene, General Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO), U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development.

While the Fair Housing Act describes several practices that constitute unlawful discrimination on the basis of disability, today I want to focus on an issue that represents one of the most common complaints the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) receives.  Each year, HUD and state and local agencies receive several hundred complaints from people who say they’ve been denied housing or equal housing opportunity because they have an assistance animal.

Under the Act’s provisions, a person may keep an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation if:

(1) the person has a disability, as defined by the Fair Housing Act,

(2) the animal is needed to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, and

(3) the person who requests the reasonable accommodation demonstrates that there is a relationship between the disability and the assistance that the animal provides.

The facts and legal determination in most of the cases we see tend to pivot on this third element, where a housing provider challenges the need for the assistance animal.  READ MORE

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