From Florida Realtors: HUD Plans a “Verification Plan for Service Animals”

All stakeholders should be pleased to learn that HUD has a “verification plan for service animals” in the works.

(Note: The following is not legal advice, as we are not lawyers. If you have specific questions about disability accommodations of any kind as it relates to housing, we can introduce you to a lawyer in our network who can advise you.) 

According to this report from Florida Realtors, “Landlords and property managers are entitled to “reliable verification” of a tenant’s need for a service animal and can require proof beyond an online certification, a Department of Housing and Urban Development official said Tuesday at the Realtors® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C.”

Florida landlords, tenants, Realtors, and all involved may be interested to hear that HUD also reports to be considering how “exotic” animals (like alligators!) fit into this equation.

We are glad to hear that HUD has this issue on the radar screen, and we look forward to guidance and clarification around service animals in housing. There is significant confusion around this issue on all fronts, and clarification will surely help everyone.

Most importantly, we’d love to see people with disabilities who need service animals be treated fairly and without discrimination. As an extension, we’d like to see the “cottage industry” referenced in this article (that has sprung up to take advantage of the confusion and sell certificates) dealt with.

We’d also like to have investors who own rental properties be more clear on the issues around this, and have more structure and guidance from HUD and its state and county-level counterparts.

Also from the Florida Realtors article:

“It’s important not to trivialize the issue of service animals because of abuses of the law, Grosso said. “Very often, there is some nefarious attribution to people who request assistance animals. But many times, there are people with significant disabilities who legitimately need the assistance of a service animal. They bear the burden of the effects of service animal abuses.”

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