FAIR HOUSING
&
SERVICE ANIMALS
EQUAL ACCESS
BEGINS WITH
KNOWING THE LAW!
I’m Glad You Asked…
• Who am I?
Michele Howard
• What is it that I do?
Civil Rights Specialist
• Where do I work?
Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC)
Iowa Civil Rights Commission
ICRC is a neutral, factfinding administrative agency that
enforces the "Iowa Civil Rights Act of
1965," Iowa's anti-discrimination
law.
APRIL
IS
FAIR HOUSING
MONTH!
Fair Housing laws
Service Animals
And
Emotional Support Animals
In Multi-Family Housing
Fair Housing Laws
• Federal laws
• State law
• Civil Rights Act of
1866
• Civil Rights Act of
1968, Title VIII
• Fair Housing
Amendments Act of
1988 (FHAA)
• Iowa Civil Rights Act,
Chapter 216 of the
Iowa Code and
Chapter 161 of the
Iowa Admin Code
• Local (city or
county) ordinances
may also apply
Fair Housing Laws
Federal Law:
The Federal Civil Rights Act of 1866
prohibits discrimination in housing
because of race or color.
The Civil Rights Act of 1968, Title VII, and
the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1989
prohibit discrimination in housing because
of race, color, sex, religion, national
origin, disability, and familial status.
Fair Housing Laws
State Law:
Iowa Civil Rights Act (Iowa Code 216)
Prohibits housing discrimination based on
race, color, sex, sexual orientation,
gender identity, religion, national
origin, mental & physical disability, and
familial status (presence of children in
the home).
Iowa City Human Rights Commission
 Iowa City HRC is one of 26 local civil rights
commissions located throughout Iowa.
 Iowa City HRC receives its authority from the Iowa
City Human Rights Ordinance, to investigate,
conciliate and determine remedies for
discrimination in the areas of credit, employment,
housing and public accommodations and
education.
 Bases Covered: race, color, creed, religion,
national origin, age, sex, marital status, sexual
orientation, family status, presence or absence of
dependents, disability or public assistance as a
source of income.
Working Together
to
Fight Discrimination
ICRC has a “Work-Share” agreement with the U.S. Dept. of
Housing and Urban Development, a.k.a. HUD to process
and investigate claims of housing discrimination.
Iowa City also has a work share agreement; may file with ICHRC or
with ICRC if the incident occurred within Iowa City’s limits.
Points of Clarification
• There is a difference between the laws regarding the use
of service animals in housing versus the use of service
animals in public accommodations.
• Recent DOJ amendments to its ADA regulations DO
NOT affect reasonable accommodation requests under
the FHA and Sec. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1974.
• The new ADA rules defines “service animal” as any
dog that is individually trained to do work or perform
tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability,
including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or
other mental disability.
• The new DOJ rules specify that “the provision of
emotional support, well-being, comfort, or
companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the
purposes of this definition.” (under ADA, Public
Accommodations)
What does this mean?
• It means that trained dogs are the only
species of animals that may qualify as
service animals under the ADA (there is
a separate provision regarding miniature
horses) and
• Emotional support animals are expressly
precluded from qualifying as service
animals under the ADA* as it relates to
public accommodations.
*Source: U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development Memo, Feb. 17, 2011.
What is a disability?
• Fair Housing Act definition:
a)A physical or mental impairment which substantially
limits one or more of a person’s major life activities,
b)A record of having such an impairment, or
c) Being regarded as having such an impairment
Physical or mental impairment: any physiological
disorder or condition of a major body system or any
mental or psychological disorder.
Major Life Activities
Examples of major life activities include:





Caring for oneself
Performing manual tasks
Seeing, hearing, eating
Walking
Communicating, interacting with others
What is a service animal?
THREE CLASSES OF ANIMALS:
Service Animals: Animals individually trained to
perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a
physical, intellectual, and/or mental disability
Emotional Support Animals: Provides therapeutic
benefit to a person with a mental or psychiatric
disability
Pets: Animals living with owners for the purposes of
love, affection, and/or company
Examples
• Service Animals:
– Vision Impairment:
• guiding individuals with impaired vision
– Physical Impairment:
• Providing protection or rescue work
• Pulling a wheelchair
• Fetching dropped items
Examples
• Emotional Support Animals:
– Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
– Anxiety Disorder
– Depression
– Bipolar Diagnosis
Service Animals and Emotional
Support Animals ARE NOT Pets
• Important to remember:
Animals needed to assist, support or provide
service for persons with disabilities are not pets
and therefore not subject to certain conditions of
pet ownership.
Service Animals and Emotional
Support Animals ARE NOT Pets
Usual conditions of tenancy:
• ‘No pet’ policy
• Payment of a pet deposit
• Pet rent
• Limitations on the number of animals in the unit
• Prohibitions on individual animals based on size
and weight
Since service and emotional support animals are not
pets, they are not subject to the above conditions.
Reasonable Accommodations
• If an applicant, a tenant, or someone associated with a
tenant, i.e. a family member or friend, has a disability,
he/she may request what is called a reasonable
accommodation.
• A reasonable accommodation is a change in rules,
policies, practices or services which allows the
tenant to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy
the residential dwelling.
Reasonable Accommodations
• The request for an accommodation:
– Tenants can request an accommodation orally or in
writing
– “When making the request, the tenant should explain
what type of accommodations he/she is requesting
and the relationship between the requested
accommodation and the disability.”
• What is the accommodation?
• How does the accommodation help the disability?
Reasonable Accommodations
• The request:
– Do not ask the tenant: “What is the disability?”
– “A landlord may request only information that is
necessary to evaluate the disability-related need for
the accommodation.”
– Do ask the tenant: “What are the effects of the
disability, and how does the [requested
accommodation] help it?”
Reasonable Accommodations
• The request:
– If the disability is not obvious, a landlord may ask for
further information about the disability that is:
• Necessary to verify the person meets the definition of a
person with a disability;
• Describes the needed accommodation; and,
• Shows the relationship between the accommodation and the
person’s disability.
Reasonable Accommodations
• A doctor’s note containing the information is generally
adequate, though not necessary
• Tenant is not required to show detailed medical records
concerning the disability
• For emotional support animals: documentation from a
physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental
health professional that the animal provides support that
alleviates at least one of the identified effects of the
disability is adequate.
Reasonable Accommodations
• When can a landlord refuse a reasonable
accommodation?
– A landlord can refuse a reasonable accommodation if it will:
• Be an undue financial or administrative burden on the
landlord
• Fundamentally alter the nature of the provider’s operations
• Results in substantial physical damage to the property of
others unless the threat can be eliminated or significantly
reduced by alternative means
• Poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others
Also remember: tenant does not have to use any “magic
words” when requesting an accommodation!
What can’t a landlord do?
• A landlord cannot flat out refuse an accommodation
request.
• A landlord can’t ask a tenant to pay a deposit, fee or
surcharge in exchange for having a service or support
animal even if they require such fees from pet owners.
• A landlord can’t require the service or support animal to
have any specific training or certification.
• A landlord can’t require the service or emotional support
animal to wear or carry any special collar, harness, vest,
emblem or other means of identifying it as such.
What should a landlord do?
• A landlord should engage in an interactive process to
determine the needs of the tenant and whether the
accommodation can be made.
• A landlord should respond as promptly as possible to the
request; an extended amount of time can be seen as a
refusal to accommodate.
What can a landlord do?
• Landlords can request proof of current vaccination
and/or license for the service and/ or emotional support
animal.
• Landlords can expect the tenant to conform to the rules
of the complex, i.e. picking up animal waste, maintaining
the unit to the extent expected of every other tenant.
• Landlords may charge for actual damages caused to the
premises by the emotional support and/or service
animal.
– Cannot charge pet deposit for potential damages but
can charge for damage actually done to the property.
Questions, Comments, Concerns
IOWA CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION
GRIMES STATE OFFICE BUILDING
400 EAST 14TH STREET
DES MOINES, IA 50319
515-281-4121 OR 800-457-4416
http://www.state.ia.us/government/crc/index.html
US DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
OFFICE OF FAIR HOUSING & EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
400 STATE AVENUE
GATEWAY TOWER II
KANSAS CITY, KS 66101
913-551-6958 OR 800-743-5323
www.HUD.gov
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Fair Housing: Service Animals