ADA or the Fair Housing Act: Which Applies to Housing?
While the ADA does protect service dogs in public places like shopping centers or restaurants, this protection does not apply to housing. It is not uncommon for a prospect to refuse to fill out a reasonable accommodation request form because they are under the false impression that their service dog is covered under the ADA and therefore, is exempt. However, the Fair Housing Act governs situations like this and has clear standards that are to be followed.
So, What Is a Leasing Agent to Do?
First, they would need to politely, yet firmly, explain that this is a common misunderstanding and reiterate that the Fair Housing Act takes precedence here. It allows the property manager to request documentation for both the disability (if it is not apparent) and the verification of the need for the animal. Another prevalent but more complicated situation involving the misapplication of ADA law is when a resident’s guest wants to bring their assistance or service animal onto the property. Again, in this situation, the Fair Housing Act takes precedence. Any guest wishing to bring their assistance or service animal onto the property would need to go through the same process as a resident and provide the following: ✓ Proof of a disability as defined by the Fair Housing Act ✓ Documentation as to how the animal assists with the disability We are fighting an uphill battle against inaccurate beliefs, which may lead many tenants to not disclose the animal in the first place. How should a property manager handle this situation?
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