Kent State Charged with Housing Discrimination

Earlier this month, HUD charged Kent State University and four of its employees with housing discrimination for allegedly refusing to allow a student with disabilities to keep an emotional support animal in her campus apartment.

The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices when a person with a disability requires such an accommodation, including refusing to grant waivers to “no pet” policies for persons who use assistance or support animals.

HUD’s charge stems from complaints filed by a Kent State University student, who allegedly lived with her husband in university-owned and operated housing that was set aside for upperclassmen and their families. She said that a university psychologist documented her disabilities and wrote a letter stating that the best way for the student to cope with her disabilities was by having a support animal. The student subsequently obtained a dog and submitted a reasonable accommodation request to the university seeking a waiver to the apartment complex’s “no pets” rule.

In her complaint, the student alleged that the university offered her academic accommodations, which she didn’t need, but denied her request to keep her support animal. As a result of the denial, the student said that she and her husband were forced to move to an apartment the university didn’t own.

HUD's charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court.

Student housing is the focus of the Coach’s September 2014 lesson, “Complying with Fair Housing When Renting to Students.” The lesson highlights issues of concern to housing communities renting to students, including accommodation requests for assistance animals in housing, both on- and off-campus. The issue is available to subscribers here.