• Morris Law Center

April is Fair Housing Month! Here’s What You Need to Know

This year marks the 48th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (enacted April 11, 1968).  The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental or financing of dwellings based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin.

Regarding the FHA, service animals and emotional support animals are getting a lot of media attention lately.  The 1988 FHA Amendment added disability and familial status as protected classes which also relates to service animals.  Specifically, under 42 USC 360(f)(3)(B), discrimination includes, “a refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.”  An example in 24CFR 100.204(b)(1) concerns a guide dog:

A blind applicant for rental housing wants to live in a dwelling unit with a seeing eye dog.  The building has a no pets policy.  It is a violation of Section 100.204 for the owner or manager of the apartment complex to refuse to permit the applicant to live in the apartment with a seeing eye dog because, without the seeing eye dog, the blind person will not have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.

This also applies more broadly to all service dogs, for whatever reason they are needed.

In 2008 HUD amended regulations governing requirements for pet ownership in HUD-assisted public housing and multifamily housing projects for the elderly and persons with disabilities (72 Fed. Reg. 58448, October 27, 2008).  Under this amendment, therapy dogs are now also included in projects for the elderly and persons with disabilities.

Please note that property managers/landlords are NOT required to make a reasonable accommodation under the FHA for service animals in these cases:

–buildings with 4 or less units where the landlord occupies one of the units;

–single family housing sold or rented without a real estate broker;

–Hotels and Motels

–Private Clubs

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