More on Reasonable Accommodation Requests for Animals

There’s a good post at the NAA blog about reasonable accommodations for animals, which as most of you know is a growing issue thanks to the increased use of emotional support animals.  One consequence is that apartment management companies are having to adopt more flexible policies regarding animals their residents want to have in their apartments. From the article:

Per U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines, a disabled resident should be given the opportunity to request any animal that reasonably affords such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy their dwelling. Owners are required to engage the resident in an interactive process in which the housing provider and the requester discuss the requester’s disability-related need for the accommodation and possible alternatives.

In years past, it seemed to be the status quo for apartment housing providers to adopt bright-line rules. These rules allowed for predictability in outcomes and restricted discretion among on-site staff to minimize the risk of fair housing discrimination complaints. While this used to be the case, now managers are expected to make decisions on a case-by-case basis depending on a resident’s unique set of needs and circumstances in accordance with the mandated interactive process.

The article contains a link to NAA’s Toolkit on Emotional Support Animals, and also references an upcoming webinar on the subject:

In an effort to continue outreach and education, NAA is hosting a webinar on this issue on Thursday, October 13 at 3 p.m. ET. NAA has enlisted the expertise of Katie Wrenn, Regional Training and Marketing Director at Milestone Management, to share the member perspective and her experiences in dealing with reasonable accommodation requests day-to-day. In addition to Ms. Wrenn’s expertise, Kirk Cullimore will discuss the forms that he was instrumental in getting approved by HUD and share lessons learned from his experience in litigating these cases throughout the investigative process.

*  Edited to add: Chris Loebsack with Loebsack & Brownlee, PLLC has graciously agreed to present a pre-trade show seminar, Emotional Support Animals and Reasonable Accommodation Requests, on October 25, 2016 from 4:30-5:30pm at the Greensboro Coliseum. Not only will you earn 1 CEC for attending, but you’ll have Chris available to answer any questions you may have on this hot topic. Register here.