March 2023 Coach's Quiz
Now that we’ve outlined the six questions to ask when a tenant requests permission to keep an assistance animal to accommodate a disability-related need, let’s see how well you learned the material. Take the Coach’s Quiz below by applying the principles we’ve discussed to the scenario we presented at the start of the lesson.
Neighbors complain that a tenant is keeping Binky, a loud and menacing-looking pit bull in her apartment in violation of your community’s no-pets policy. You ask the tenant to get rid of the dog or you may have to evict her. She becomes flustered and insists that she has a disability and needs Binky for emotional and physical support. But the tenant seems perfectly healthy both physically and mentally, and this is the first time she’s ever mentioned anything about having a disability. What should you do?
COACH’S ANSWER & EXPLANATION
Let’s apply the rules to the situation.
Step 1: Treat Request as a Valid Accommodations Request
First, recognize that the tenant has made a valid request for a reasonable accommodation. This is true even though the tenant never mentioned anything about having a disability before and made the request only after you discovered that she had already brought Binky into her apartment in violation of your no-pets policy.
Step 2: Determine if the Tenant Really Has a Disability
Don’t jump to the conclusion that the tenant is making up a story about having a disability as a ploy to keep Binky. Although she may look physically and mentally healthy, she may have a disability that’s not “observable.”
Step 3: Determine if Binky Is an Assistance Animal
If the tenant has a disability, the FHA duty to make an exemption to a no-pets policy as a reasonable accommodation applies only if Binky is a service animal or other kind of assistance animal. So, you need to determine whether Binky meets the criteria for either.
Step 4: Find Out How Binky Serves the Tenant’s Disability-Related Need
The next thing you need to know is how exactly Binky helps the tenant cope with her disability. You can verify both the disability and her need for Binky by requesting the kind of information listed in the analysis under Question 4.
Step 5: Decide If Allowing Binky to Stay Is a Reasonable Accommodation
Having verified disability, disability-related need, and Binky’s status as an assistance animal, you must determine whether letting him stay would be a reasonable accommodation. The key question: Does Binky pose an unreasonable threat of harm or damage to others? You can’t conclude Binky’s dangerous simply because he’s a pit bull. Your assessment must be based not on breed but on Binky’s actual personality and behavior. Talk to the tenant’s neighbors and others about Binky and whether he’s ever threatened or attacked them or another person. Even if you determine that Binky isn’t a safety threat, consider whether his barking creates an unreasonable nuisance for other tenants.
Step 6: Explore Alternative Accommodations If Keeping Binky Is a No-Go
If you conclude that Binky poses a danger or nuisance to others, consider what you may be able to do to control the problem. Possibilities:
- Requiring that Binky be muzzled at all times when he leaves the apartment so he can’t bite anyone;
- Safe tranquilization or other actions to keep Binky from barking at night;
- Installing sound-proofing insulation in the tenant’s apartment so neighbors won’t hear the barking;
- If all else fails, exploring the tenant’s willingness to replace Binky with a less dangerous, better-behaved animal.
See The Lesson For This Quiz
|When to Grant Tenants’ Requests for Assistance Animals|