All members of the National Apartment Association (NAA) should be aware that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today released new guidance to clarify the responsibilities of both rental housing providers and renters concerning reasonable accommodation requests for emotional support animals (ESAs) in housing. For four years, this has been a priority issue for NAA and we have been urging HUD to issue new guidance, so this is welcome news.
We are carefully reviewing the document to ensure that it provides more clarity on ESAs; clarity which is urgently needed in the face of growing abuse. As rental housing operators know, in recent years there has been a significant increase in requests for emotional support animals from applicants and residents. The overwhelming number of accommodation requests for ESAs are to allow animals in no-pets buildings, grant exceptions to existing policies on prohibited breeds or weight restrictions or to avoid paying pet deposits or fees. This made it extremely difficult for owners and operators to parse out legitimate requests from illegitimate ones.
We hope this new federal guidance will help rental housing providers mitigate abuse, ensure better compliance with fair housing laws and continue to protect the rights of disabled persons to live with their service animals and emotional support animals. NAA will communicate the specifics of the guidance as soon as the analysis is complete.