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GA Blog: Fair Housing Act

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11.11.19 HUD sends letter on unreliable service animal documentation

Last week, HUD Secretary Ben Carson sent a letter to Joseph Simons, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, and Andrew Smith, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, voicing concern over websites that offer “unreliable and unnecessary” assistance animal documentation.

Per the Fair Housing Act, it is illegal for housing providers to refuse to grant reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities.  This allows for the acceptance of a service animal even though a pet restriction policy would otherwise prohibit the animal.

The concern voiced is that these websites mislead disabled individuals by representing that the documentation in which they sell is required when many times no documentation may be needed at all.  Secretary Carson states one example: “a housing provider should not request documentation if an individual is seeking to keep a dog and it is readily apparent that the dog is trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.” A secondary concern is also raised that able-bodied individuals may be able to buy this documentation to pass off pets as assistance animals.

NAR thanked Secretary Carson for taking action to protect hose who rely on assistance animals. You can ready NAR’s statement here and the letter from Secretary Carson here.

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