On January 28, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released new guidance clarifying how housing providers can comply with the federal Fair Housing Act when evaluating a person’s request to have a reasonable accommodation for an assistance animal in housing.
Highlights from the January 28th HUD Notice:
Reinforces a landlord's ability to request reliable documentation when an individual's disability-related need is not readily apparent.
Explicitly states that documentation from the internet (a certificate) is not, by itself, sufficient to reliably establish that an individual has a non-observable disability or disability-related need for an assistance animal.
Outlines what constitutes reliable documentation, which includes supporting information from a licensed healthcare professional who has a relationship with the patient that involves providing healthcare or disability-related services.
Elaborates on how housing providers should handle requests for animals that are not traditionally kept in housing.
While this new guidance addressed several of the apartment industry's concerns related to emotional support animals, the passage of FAA's priority legislation (HB 209/SB 1084) is still critical. You can rest assured that FAA will continue to fight hard in Tallahassee for the passage of this important legislation.
HB 209/SB 1084 will ensure:
A criminal penalty and a strong deterrent exists in Florida state law for individuals who falsify the need for an emotional support animal.
Florida state law reflects that an owner of an emotional support animal is responsible for any liability or damages done by an ESA — not a property owner.