HUD Issues Guidance on Emotional Support Animals

By Peter Fabris | February 4, 2020
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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released new guidance clarifying the responsibilities of rental housing providers and renters for reasonable accommodation requests for emotional support animals in housing. The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and the National Apartment Association (NAA) released a statement in support of HUD’s move. “The apartment industry strongly supports the rights of persons with disabilities to make reasonable accommodation requests so they may have equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling,” according to the news release.

“However, a lack of clarity in the law currently governing emotional support animals allows for abuse and imposes an unfair burden on property owners. This undermines the intent of the Fair Housing Act to help those truly in need of an emotional support animal.”

HUD’s announcement of the new guidance reads: “A person with a disability that affects a major life activity may require the assistance of an animal that does work, performs tasks, or provides therapeutic emotional support because of the disability. Housing providers may confirm, if it is not apparent, whether the requested accommodation is needed because of a disability that affects a major life activity and is a reasonable request.”

Before the new guidance was issued, it was often difficult for owners and operators to determine legitimate requests from illegitimate ones, the joint statement says.

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