Anyone reading the news, or at least the disability news, understands that so called emotional support animals for persons with mental disabilities are a big deal. The number of HUD complaints based on refusals to allow ESA’s is growing, and there is a booming industry filing complaints, selling fake service dog paraphernalia, and selling bogus diagnosis of disability. With all this going on, it might be reasonable to ask whether there is any evidence at all that ESA’s at home or on an airplane are really of any value at all to a person who is disabled. Despite the noise from animal advocates, the science doesn’t support their claims. More
FHA Emotional Support Animals
On May 17 a jury in the District of Montana found that a landlord violated the Fair Housing Act by requiring a pet deposit from a disabled tenant and awarded damages of almost $40,000. (U.S. v. Katz et al, Case No. 14-68). Why is this good news for landlords? Because there was a jury trial, meaning the landlord had a chance to win.
HUD and the DOJ have long taken the position that any requirement of a pet deposit for a service dog or assistance animal* violates the reasonable accommodation provisions of the FHA. (Notice dated April 23, 2013, FHEO-2013-01). The position is illogical on its face because HUD and DOJ recognize that a disabled tenant remains responsible for any damage caused by a service or assistance animal. If the tenant remains responsible for the damage, why not require a damage deposit? HUD does not require that landlords waive a rent or general damage deposit for disabled tenants, and a pet deposit is no different. Nonetheless, HUD has spoken and requests for accommodation in the form of pet deposit waivers have skyrocketed since 2013. More
The National Psychologist’s January/February 2017 edition includes Richard’s article “What is a disability, anyway?” The article explains for mental health professionals why caution is needed in diagnosing a “disability” when the term has a legal, rather than a medical, meaning. You can read the full text of the article at The National Psychologist online edition. Those who are interested in the ways in which sloppy and even unprofessional diagnosis are feeding a boom in fake emotional support animal requests should check our earlier blog Just Say “No” to bogus ESA requests and email for a copy of our webinar on dealing with fake requests for emotional support animals.
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, ADA FHA Litigation General, FHA, FHA Emotional Support Animals Tags: CityVision, dialing for dollars, Fair Housing Advocates, Gary Lacefield, Gratus Partners, Patrick Coleman
CityVision Services, a Texas based company in the business of filing HUD complaints, recently chose to withdraw a complaint rather than face investigation of its operations by HUD’s Region VII office. The details remain confidential (they involve one of our clients) but the broad picture of how this happened can help other victims of CityVision complaints deal with them.
In this particular case CityVision filed two complaints; one on behalf of an individual claiming disability discrimination and one on its own behalf. Like all the complaints CityVision files on its own behalf it contained a short and completely misleading statement of its history and operations. It claimed, for example, to have been established 23 years ago to file complaints on behalf of victims of discrimination, when in fact the present incarnation of CityVision was created in 2015 in order to file complaints on its own behalf. More
By Richard Hunt in Accessibility Litigation Trends, FHA, FHA Emotional Support Animals, FHA Reasonable Accommodation, Landlord-tenant Tags: City Vision, CityVision, dialing for dollars, Fair Housing Advocates, Gary Lacefield, Patrick Coleman
In the last several weeks we’ve gotten calls from attorneys and industry groups in several states about Patrick Coleman’s company, “Fair Housing Advocates,” filing significant numbers of HUD multiple complaints in Louisiana, Indiana and elsewhere. There is no easy way to know the full geographic extent of Fair Housing Advocates’ activities because the dialing for dollars business requires nothing but a phone, a list of apartment complexes, and a willingness to prevaricate about one’s motives and intent. City Vision Services, a related business, has also re-appeared with a complaint filed in Nebraska. More