I am always glad to hear when I talk to property managers that they take it for granted that they have to allow assistive animals and they can’t charge pet deposits for those animals. While managers don’t need to be familiar with all of the nuances relating to assistive animals, such as what qualifies as a medical verification, managers should be aware of the basics. I truly believe that Arizona Multihousing Association (AMA) members have a good understanding in this area of the law and I rarely get surprised looks when I explain what a manager’s obligations are in responding to requests for reasonable accommodations.
It is because of this that I am always surprised when I hear of professional managers in other states blatantly violate these rules. Just this month, HUD announced a settlement with a Nevada property management company for the company’s failure to waive deposits for assistive animals. The settlement cost the management company $20,500 and a lot of bad press. I would like to believe this is rare occurrence, but these types of cases are quite common. Last year, HUD reached a settlement of $70,000 with a Colorado management company for, among other claims, discriminating against persons with disabilities by not allowing assistive animals.
The only possible reason I can imagine for this type of activity to occur is that the managers and owners were not taking classes on fair housing. While it’s never easy to fit time in a manager’s schedule to go to a class, such education has a clear benefit (and even a monetary savings). And remember, whenever you have a fair housing question, it is always best to ask your attorney. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
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