Use Fact Sheet to Help Educate Verifiers on FHA Assistance Animal Rules
Doing so may improve medical professionals’ responsiveness.
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits housing providers from discriminating against people with disabilities, including refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices when such accommodations may be necessary to provide persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to use or enjoy their home. In most circumstances, a refusal to make such a change or exception, known as a reasonable accommodation, is unlawful.
A common reasonable accommodation is an exception to a no-pet policy. A person with a disability may require the assistance of an animal that does work, performs tasks, or provides therapeutic emotional support because of the disability. Owners may confirm, if it isn’t apparent, whether the requested accommodation is needed because of a disability that affects a major life activity and is a reasonable request.
It may be the case that during the process of verifying a tenant’s request for a disability-related accommodation, you or your staff finds that sometimes medical professionals are not responsive or are hesitant to provide the requested information. These professionals may have encountered other definitions of “disabled” in other programs. For example, for adults, the Social Security law has a stricter definition and defines disability as the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
To improve the responsiveness from medical professionals when requesting verification for assistance animals, consider sending a fact sheet that informs them that the requirements for accommodations under the FHA are not as strict as they are for other programs. Our Model Notice: Provide Fact Sheet to Medical Professionals Verifying Resident’s Need for Assistance Animal is based on the most recent guidance from HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) on assistance animals [FHEO Notice: FHEO-2020-01]. The guidance says that owners may not require a health care professional to use a specific form, to provide notarized statements, to make statements under penalty of perjury, or to provide an individual’s diagnosis or other detailed information about a person’s physical or mental impairments.
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|Provide Fact Sheet to Medical Professionals Verifying Resident's Need for Assistance Animal|