HUD Releases New Guidance re: Assistance Animals

As most of you have heard, on January 28, 2020, HUD released FHEO Notice 2020-01 Assessing a Person’s Request to Have an Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Fair Housing Act providing new guidance for owner/agents responding to requests for Assistance Animals. (Please note this is guidance and not regulation.) This guidance replaces HUD’s prior guidance, FHEO-2013-01 Service Animals and Assistance Animals for People with Disabilities in Housing and HUD-Funded Programs. This Notice also references the HUD/DOJ Joint Statements Regarding Reasonable Accommodations (you can find all three HUD/DOJ Joint Statements on our web site).

HUD has divided this Notice into two sections.

The first section - “Assessing a Person’s Request to Have an Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA)” - recommends a set of best practices for complying with the FHA when assessing accommodation requests involving animals.

The second section - “Guidance on Documenting an Individual’s Need for Assistance Animals in Housing,” – explains how residents/applicants and owner/agents should work together to document information about the disability-related need for an assistance animal.

HUD clearly states that the fair housing guidance covers all housing providers. 

RBD customers also have to consider Section 504 which broadens the scope of an owner/agent’s responsibilities when the property is federally funded.

We’ve always been advocates for people who qualify for assistance animals so we were happy to note that HUD guidance ensures protections are afforded to applicants/residents with disabilities who need an assistance animal.

In the Notice, HUD also discusses requests for nontraditional animals (e.g. snakes, spiders, etc.), internet verification and acceptable verifiers.

Over the weekend we reviewed all RBD FASTForms that discuss or address the need for an assistance animal.

The Pet Rules, No Pet Rules and Assistance Animal Policy and supporting forms have been updated and we added new verification forms to use when applicants/residents request nontraditional animals.