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landlord helpA recent trend in housing discrimination claims involves companion animals. Where a landlord maintains a no-pets policy, those rules may have to be suspended in the case of tenants with disabilities.

Massachusetts housing officials this week awarded $25,000 to a tenant who was threatened with eviction after refusing to give up a dog he brought into his apartment in violation of the landlord’s no-pets policy.  The tenant testified that the dog was recommended by his doctor to help the man cope with HIV.

The landlord has vowed to appeal because they say the tenant initially did not inform them of his disability or ask to keep the dog as an accommodation.

While this case was prosecuted under state rules, HUD has made it clear that companion animals are protected under the FHA and disabilities statutes at the federal level.  Landlords must accommodate a request for a companion animal without penalties to the tenant with a disability.  For instance, the landlord cannot charge higher rent or add on fees.

Last year, a Fargo, North Dakota landlord was charged with discrimination for charging a nonrefundable deposit of $200, plus $20 more per month rent to tenants with disabilities who owned companion animals.

By contrast, however, a New York condo association has been given the green light to evict a disabled woman over a dog she claimed was a companion animal. In that case, the dog belongs to the woman’s daughter and only visits from time to time.  The woman taught the dog to accompany her when she sings in her apartment, and neighbors complained about the noise.

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  • Bill


  • Tony Asbill

    This is a crazy law. Where are the rights of the landlord protected. I realize that some tenants would have a well trained small animal that would would not even be noticed by other tenants and would not damage the property. But this law also allows people to have animals that in some cases urinate all over the apartment or chew up the door moldings and we as the landlord cannot charge additional deposits or anything to protect ourselves. I for one am very concerned.

  • Anthony

    the title was purposefully misleading

  • Rosanne

    Why was the landlord found in violation when the tenant did not make a request for the accomodation? HUD states that the landlord must accomodate a request but how can the landlord accomodate a request that was never made? Either all of the information was not listed in the article or the judge was completely wrong in this case.

  • Tim

    Shouldn’t people be free to make contracts on whatever terms the two parties agreed to – provided those terms harm no one? If the tenant agreed to no dogs and changing circumstances require that he needs a dog, then isn’t he free to find a rental that accommodates his need? Where does the tenant or the government get the right to control the Landlord? It is the Landlord’s property, so is it not legal for him to do as he will with his own?

  • Dr. Science

    What is it with renter folks anyway? Is it just me? Or do you other landlords notice the number of people who rent living spaces who feel the need to own enough livestock to start a farm? I mean, really. Every time I have a place come open, I cannot believe the number of folks who come out of the woodwork who own 4 dogs and 2 cats, for example. It’s nuts! I always have to shake my head and think, “If you just would take the $$ you spend in vet bills, pet food, and all the other stuff that goes with being a responsible pet owner (and, let’s face it, most are not) they could OWN a home of their own. ya think?!

  • Jose Quinones

    Just keep voting the liberals in. Eventually you will no freedom.They will regulat every aspect of your life

  • what can landlord do when section 8
    tenant brings in addition her boyfriend, parents,
    sister and child into her apartment

  • Rt

    We were forced by the state to accept a tenant with a “service animal” that was not disclosed during the application process. The application and lease clearly stated no pets. The tenant argued this was a service animal. Info from the SPCA was provided but we were still sceptical of this “service animal” as no other info certification or licensing was available. The applicant agreed to give up the animal as they desired to move in the apartment. Within 1 week we received a discrimination suit from the state. We were forced to accept this tenant and “service animal”. The nightmare began. After numerous violent incidents, the tenant was successfully evicted. The state will not accept respnsibility for this tenant and “forcing tenant down our throats”. The amount expended for repairs and legal fees was ridiculous. States need to help good landlords and stop discriminating against them, stereotyping them, and treating them all as absentee or slumlords. I believe we are all in need of better support at the government level.

  • Tony

    Landlords need to help good tenants with pets and stop discriminating against them, stereotyping them, and treating them all as careless destroyers of other peoples property.

  • Laura

    OMG you speak the truth! I just spent two hours researching the most aggressive and destructive breeds. Can you guess which ones they are? Chihuahua and Dachshund! And landlords say they’ll accept dogs under 30 lbs! First, that’s not a dog…that’s a rat. My Newfoundland’s head weighs more than 30 lbs and he is professionally trained, gentle and well behaved. Responsible dog owners are 100% discriminated against! That simple!

  • Erin Zimmerman

    Wow, clearly you are not an animal lover and are discriminatory yourself. If you feel the need to put down specific breeds it just shows the low level of understanding you truly have about animals. I have a small chihuahua and she is quiet and non destructive. She is also my emotional support animal (legally obtained through a psychologist) Do you not realize destructive means chewing, barking, scratching, digging and a host of other things? Do you really believe that chihuahuas and dacshunds are the only ones that do that? If so you win “idiot-of-the-year award” Incredible. You get angry at the weight limit and resort to calling an innocent dog a rat? Lol…. You are just as ignorant and uneducated as the landlords who think all pet owners and pets are destructive. Please do some research and stop blaming certain breeds. You’re part of the problem here. I am a certified vet tech and you won’t believe the amount of people come in complaining their lab or golden retriever or doberman is barking loudly, scratching at the door, digging up the garden, chewing on furniture or terrorizing the neighbors. Educate yourself woman.

  • RG

    Because people who need service animals or emotional support animals have rights. Rights that landlords have violated too many times and would still violate if given the chance.

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