NY Landlords Pay $15K to Settle Case Involving Emotional Support Animal

HUD recently announced that the owners and agent of an New York apartment complex have agreed to pay $15,000 to settle allegations that they refused to allow a woman with mental disabilities to keep an assistance animal.

Federal fair housing law prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing to persons with disabilities and from refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices, which includes denying service animal requests.

The case came to HUD’s attention when a woman with mental disabilities filed a complaint alleging that the owners and its agents refused to allow her to keep an assistance animal. HUD’s charge of discrimination alleged that after the resident brought the animal home, an agent for the landlord confronted her about the animal. Allegedly, the landlords refused to make an exception to their “no-pets” policy, even after the woman provided documentation attesting to her disabilities. HUD’s charge further alleged that the landlords initiated a retaliatory eviction action against the resident after she made the accommodation request, in violation of fair housing law.

Under the terms of the settlement, the owners will pay $15,000 to the woman, undergo fair housing training, and create a reasonable accommodation policy that allows residents with disabilities to keep assistance animals, including emotional support animals.

“People who rely on assistance animals to maintain their independence shouldn’t have their right to housing accommodations unlawfully denied,” Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. “HUD will continue to ensure housing providers understand their rights and responsibilities under the law and take steps to meet those obligations.”

“This agreement highlights the importance of landlords following the law and making reasonable accommodations to their pet policies for tenants with disabilities,” said J. Paul Compton Jr., HUD’s General Counsel.