Changes in public perceptions and levels of awareness of the issues surrounding emotional support animals have created a mandate for new state laws and federal policies. Earlier this year I wrote in this column about new measures being considered by the Florida Legislature as well as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD has now released its official guidance for assistance animal requests and the responses to such requests by housing providers under the Fair Housing Act.
The federal housing agency reported that complaints concerning denials of reasonable accommodations for assistance animals have been growing significantly, and they now represent one of the most common types of FHA complaints that HUD receives.
The new guidance is intended to serve as a tool for housing providers and those with disabilities. It covers many of the best practices for providers addressing requests for reasonable accommodations for assistance animals.
The guidance should help to make it easier for housing providers and individuals requesting an accommodation to gain a good understanding of the applicable laws. For requests for emotional support animals in which the underlying disability may not be readily observable, HUD states that housing providers may request information regarding both the disability and the disability-related need for the animal, but they are not entitled to know an individual’s diagnosis.