How to handle accommodation requests for service animals or emotional support animals is a topic that this Firm has covered numerous times. We’ve previously blogged, and we even teach a course for CMCA credit hours on how to handle these accommodation requests. We’ve proposed what we feel to be best practices to best guide and protect community association board members. Fortunately, it appears that we might receive more definitive guidance soon. The National Association of Realtors has been lobbying the federal government to issue guidelines to allow landlords and property managers to verify whether a tenant’s need for such an animal is legitimate. Revised guidelines are expected to be issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Community associations theoretically should be able to point to these revised guidelines as a basis.
As we referenced in our prior blog post, there is rampant abuse in the request for accommodations for emotional support animals. People can simply go online and obtain certificates from just about anyone stating that their pet is necessary for their emotional support without having to provide any support.
The NAR is pushing HUD to add guidelines stating that tenants will have to have a letter from a licensed health care provider with whom they have an ongoing professional relationship. In addition, the proposed revisions would permit landlords and managers to call the provider to verify the relationship.
We look forward to seeing these guidelines as they develop. Stay tuned!