NAHMA HUD Update: HUD issues guidance on reasonable accommodations for assistance animals

January 30, 2020

Dear NAHMA Members,

Yesterday, HUD published new guidance relating to reasonable accommodations for assistance animals under the Fair Housing Act. The notice, titled “Assessing a Person’s Request to Have an Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation under the Fair Housing Act,” explains obligations of housing providers with respect to animals that individuals with disabilities may request as reasonable accommodations, including service and support animals.

 This guidance clarifies best practices for complying with the Fair Housing Act when assessing requests for reasonable accommodations to keep animals in housing, including information that a housing provider may need to know from a health care professional about an individual’s need for an assistance animal in housing. Specifically, the guidance provides best practices regarding the type and amount of documentation a housing provider may ask an individual with a disability to provide in support of an accommodation request for a support animal. This guidance does not address how HUD will process complaints against housing providers under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In a HUD press release, Secretary Ben Carson stated, “Countless Americans rely on assistance animals to fill a void, providing individuals with disabilities with the means to have a home that supports their quality of life. In my many discussions with housing providers and residents impacted by the need for assistance, I recognized the necessity for further clarity regarding support animals to provide peace of mind to individuals with disabilities while also taking in account the concerns of housing providers. Today’s announcement responds to the ambiguity surrounding proper documentation for assistance animals with clarity and compassion to provide an equal opportunity for a person living with a disability to use and enjoy their home.”

The guidance replaces HUD’s guidance from 2013 on this matter and applies to all housing providers covered by the Fair Housing Act (virtually all types of privately-owned and federally-assisted housing with a few limited exceptions). To view the notice, please click here.