S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced a new policy that will affect how owners of buildings and other housing providers acknowledge and accommodate service animals. This new policy expands the protections of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by ensuring that people with disabilities, who rely on service animals, have access to a safe and secure housing environment.
The policy requires owners or operators of housing, public accommodations, state and local agencies, and other housing providers to modify their policies if necessary to accommodate qualified individuals with disabilities who have service animals. This includes allowing tenants to keep their service animal in their unit and making any reasonable accommodation necessary to allow for the use and enjoyment of the housing. HUD also clarified that these changes are not limited to just physical modifications to a unit but can include other reasonable changes such as an exception to a no-pet policy, removal of breed and weight restrictions, waiver of certain fees, etc.
For those owners and housing providers that receive federal financial assistance, they must also allow for the use of service animals even if they have a “no-pets” policy. These entities cannot use breed or size restrictions on service animals, unless they can demonstrate it is necessary for safety reasons. They must also make sure that rules regarding the control and supervision of the service animal are reasonable and consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
In addition, this new policy updates the definition of a service animal. HUD clarified that a service animal is any dog, miniature horse, or other animal individually trained to perform tasks or do work for the benefit of an individual with a disability. This includes psychological comfort or emotional support animals that do not necessarily need to be trained to do a specific task, but provide companionship and help alleviate feelings of depression, anxiety, or fear.
The primary aim of this policy change is to ensure that people with disabilities, who rely on service animals, have access to safe and secure housing. This is an important step forward in protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities, as well as those in the housing industry. It furthers the mission of the FHA by creating a more inclusive and equitable environment. By updating the definitions of Service Animals and making reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, this policy helps build a more unified and accessible community.
S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has recently implemented a policy change that expands the protections of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The new policy is intended to guarantee that individuals with disabilities, who rely on service animals, have access to safe and secure housing. This policy requires owners and operators of housing, as well as other housing providers, to make necessary modifications to their policies to accommodate the needs of those relying on service animals. It also clarifies the definition of a service animal, which includes both trained animals to perform specific tasks, and animals that provide emotional and psychological comfort without requiring training.
This policy change is an important step towards protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities and helping build a more inclusive and equitable environment. By making reasonable accommodations for those who rely on service animals, it ensures that these individuals have access to secure housing and shows a commitment to the goal of creating a unified and accessible community. Additionally, it provides guidance to owners and housing providers about best practices in accommodating those with service animals and protects them from the potential liability that may arise from not meeting these requirements.
This article was contributed on Nov 17, 2023