Yesterday, HUD released a notice (FHEO-2020-01) titled “Assessing a Person’s Request to Have an Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Fair Housing Act.” The notice provides PHAs (and other housing providers) with a set of best practices to assess requests for reasonable accommodations to keep animals in housing while complying with the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
The notice states that FHA complaints involving requests for reasonable accommodations for assistance animals are on the rise. One of the purposes of this guidance is to help housing providers distinguish between a person with a non-obvious disability who has a legitimate need for an assistance animal and a person without a disability who wants to have a pet (or otherwise circumvent a rule applicable to a pet).
The guidance does several things. First, it provides a framework for identifying service animals. Second, it provides a framework to analyze reasonable accommodation requests under the Fair Housing Act for assistance animals other than service animals (There are two types of assistance animals–“service animals” and “support animals”; the latter are trained or untrained animals that do work, perform tasks, provide assistance, or emotional support for individuals with disabilities that do not fall under the service animals category). Third, the guidance provides criteria for assessing whether to grant a requested accommodation. Fourth, the guidance provides information on which types of animals (i.e., species of animals) are acceptable in which situations. Fifth, the guidance provides additional considerations that must be taken into account.
Additionally, there is a second section of the notice which provides a section on documenting an individual’s need for assistance animals in housing and provides a series of frequently-asked questions and accompanying answers.
The full guidance can be found here.