How To Handle Requests For Assistance Animals in HUD Property

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of disability, including the denial of reasonable accommodation requests. One of the most common accommodation requests involves assistance animals.

Housing providers who receive such requests from tenants residing in properties, or prospective tenants must navigate these requests carefully to ensure compliance with the law.

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In this blog, we will explore how to handle requests for assistance animals in HUD property while maintaining strict adherence to fair housing regulations.

Understanding Assistance Animals

Assistance animals, sometimes called service animals or support animals, play a crucial role in helping individuals with disabilities manage their daily lives. These animals can be dogs, cats, birds, or other animals that provide emotional support, perform specific tasks, or alleviate symptoms related to a disability. It’s important to note that assistance animals are not considered pets under fair housing laws, and the FHA protects their presence.

 Understanding Pet Policies and Assistance Animals: What You Need to Know

Handling Requests for Assistance Animals

  1. Recognize the Request: Recognizing requests for assistance animals is the first step. Requests may come in various forms, such as written or verbal requests. HUD property managers and landlords should be prepared to accept both written and oral requests for accommodation. A request does not need to use specific language; it can simply convey the need for an assistance animal due to a disability.
  1. Verify the Disability: While the FHA requires that housing providers make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, they are not obligated to inquire about the specific nature of the disability. Instead, they can request reliable documentation from a qualified healthcare or mental health professional that establishes the disability and the necessity of the assistance animal. The documentation should confirm the connection between the disability and the need for the animal.
  1. Evaluate the Request: Once you have received documentation, evaluate the request based on the information provided. Consider whether the assistance animal is necessary to provide an equal opportunity for the individual with a disability to live independently. HUD property managers should keep in mind that this evaluation should not focus on the breed or species of the animal, but rather on the specific needs of the individual.
  1. Engage in an Interactive Process: If there are any doubts or concerns about the request, engage in an interactive process with the tenant or prospective tenant to understand their needs and concerns better. This may include discussions about the specific tasks the animal performs or how it mitigates the effects of the disability. Remember that this process should be collaborative and solutions-oriented.
  1. Grant the Accommodation: If the documentation supports the need for an assistance animal and it is determined that granting the accommodation is reasonable, approve the request promptly. HUD property managers should provide written notice of the approval and update their policies to include the accommodation.
  1. Deny with Justification: If after a thorough evaluation, you find that the request does not meet the criteria for a reasonable accommodation, you may deny it. However, this decision must be based on legitimate reasons and should be documented in writing. Be prepared to provide an explanation to the tenant or prospective tenant.


So, by now you must have understood, how to handle requests for assistance animals in the HUD property. 

By recognizing and properly evaluating these requests, HUD property managers can ensure compliance with the law while fostering an inclusive and welcoming living environment for all residents.

Remember that the goal is to strike a balance between accommodating the needs of individuals with disabilities and maintaining the integrity of your housing community. Explore our website to find free training sessions related to HUD.

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