On January 28, 2020, the US Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) issued its “Assistance Animals Notice” (Notice). The Notice includes two attachments:
- The first attachment recommends a set of best practices for housing providers (including homeowners associations) to better ensure compliance with the Fair Housing Act (FHA) in responding to a person’s request for accommodation involving animals.
- The second attachment provides guidance as to what information may need to be provided by a person requesting an accommodation for an assistance animal.
While the Notice is not a “law,” it is intended to provide some clarity regarding existing laws and policies regarding assistance animals.
FHA complaints involving requests for reasonable accommodation for assistance animals are the most common type of fair housing complaint that HUD receives. In light of the proliferation of so-called “certifications” for assistance animals available online—often used by persons who do not meet the requirements for reasonable accommodation—HUD released this additional information to assist housing providers, individuals with disabilities and the public to understand when a request for accommodation must be granted, particularly in situations in which the need for an assistance animal is not obvious and the animal does not have individualized training.
While the attachments to the Notice offer guidance for both housing providers and persons seeking a reasonable accommodation for an assistance animal, they certainly don’t resolve all the issues involved in such requests. We recommend each association work with its legal counsel to review the association’s current policies and procedures related to requests for accommodation of an assistance animal, and make necessary revisions to those policies and procedures to conform to the information in the Notice. In some cases, putting a completely new policy in place may be the best course of action for an association.
Read the Notice and attachments here.
Stay tuned for more information on the development of policies and practices in response to the Notice.