Many lawyers and governmental entities believe that anyone who is “disabled” for purposes of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) must also be handicapped for purposes of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). This used to be true, but may not be anymore. The difference between a disability and a handicap has important practical implications for multi-family communities and others who are subject to the accessibility provisions of the FHA. More
By richardhunt in ADA FHA General, ADA FHA Litigation General, Apartments, Condominiums, FHA, Multi-Family, Residential Development Tags: Apartments, Condominiums, developers, FHA Litigation, mental health disabilities, real-estate, service animals, support animals
Support animals for individuals with mental health disabilities present special problems for the owners and managers of residential properties. A complaint filed on New Year’s Eve, Intermountain Fair Housing Council, Inc. v. Michael’s Manor, LLC, illustrates some of those problems and shows why requests for an accomodation to allow a support animal must be handled with care.
The first issue faced by owners and managers is whether an untrained support animal has to be allowed at all. In Michael’s Manor the plaintiff alleges that the leasing agent flatly refused to permit a support animal for the treatment of a mental disability A decade ago that refusal might have worked, for a number of courts held that an apartment or condominium complex was only required to permit trained service animals based on the ADA definition of “service animal.” The FHA does not mention service or support animals in its provisions concerning reasonable accommodations and most recent decisions agree that refusal to allow a mental health support animal can constitute illegal discrimination. Requiring proof that the tenant’s animal qualifies as a “service animal” for a physical disability almost certainly violates the FHA. More
No one person can usually make all the mistakes needed for design/build liability under the ADA and FHA. At a minimum the architect, builder and owner probably made mistakes, and in many cases there are subcontractors involved as well. In traditional litigation this would be a plaintiff’s dream. The more defendants, the bigger the pot of money for settlement and attorney’s fees. Despite this common wisdom courts looking at indemnity and contribution issues under the ADA and FHA have generally limited the ability to bring in additional defendants in ways tend to defeat the purpose of these laws and do so primarily at the expense of property owners and developers. More