COACH's Pop Quiz!

Q: Your community has a “no pets” policy. Recently, you discovered that a resident has a cat in her unit, but she said that she’s disabled and it’s an emotional support animal. It seems like she’s just trying to keep her pet cat, but you can get into fair housing trouble if you enforce the lease to require her to remove the animal. True or false?


A: True. Despite your suspicions, you could get into fair housing trouble if you enforce the lease to require her to remove the animal.

In its new “Animal Assistance Notice,” HUD says that a resident may request a reasonable accommodation either before or after acquiring the assistance animal. An accommodation also may be requested after a housing provider seeks to terminate the resident’s lease or tenancy because of the animal’s presence, although such timing may create an inference against good faith on the part of the person seeking a reasonable accommodation. Under the Fair Housing Act, however, a person with a disability may make a reasonable accommodation request at any time, and the housing provider must consider the reasonable accommodation request even if the resident made the request after bringing the animal into the housing.

In the April 2020 lesson, Fair Housing Coach reviews HUD’s new guidance on how to assess requests to have an animal as a reasonable accommodation under fair housing law. The new guidance, sometimes referred to as the “Animal Assistance Notice,” includes two attachments. The first, “Assessing a Person’s Request to Have an Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Fair Housing Act,” recommends a set of best practices for complying with federal fair housing law when assessing a person with a disability’s accommodation requests involving animals in housing.

The second attachment is “Guidance on Documenting an Individual’s Need for Assistance Animals in Housing,” which offers a summary of information that a housing provider may need to know from a healthcare professional about an individual’s need for an assistance animal in housing.

In the April lesson, we enlisted the help of our experts, fair housing attorneys Terry Kitay and Kathi Williams, to highlight what has—and hasn’t—changed under the new guidelines and offer tips to help your community comply with fair housing law when evaluating reasonable accommodation requests for assistance animals.

The April lesson, “How to Comply with HUD’s New Guidance on Assistance Animals,” is available to subscribers here.