NY Community Charged with Denying Request to Keep Pit Bull as Assistance Animal

HUD recently charged the owner and managers of a New York community for allegedly discriminating against people with disabilities who required the use of assistance animals.

Federal fair housing law prohibits communities from denying or limiting housing to persons with disabilities; the law also makes it unlawful to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices, including requests to waive no-pet policies for assistance animals.

The HUD complaint was filed by a woman with a mental disability who alleged that after she signed a lease for a unit, the community’s owners and managers denied her request to waive its no-pet policy so she could keep her pit bull as an emotional support animal. The complaint alleged that the owners and managers cancelled her lease, even though she allegedly provided a doctor's statement attesting to her need for the accommodation.

HUD's charge will be heard by an administrative law judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court.

"Persons who require assistance animals have as much right to housing as anyone else and shouldn't have their requests for such accommodations unlawfully denied," Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. "HUD will continue to take appropriate enforcement action whenever the rights of persons with disabilities are violated."