Fair Housing - Service and Comfort Animals

Fair Housing – Service and Comfort Animals



hi I'm Annie Fitzsimmons I am your Washington Realtors Legal Hotline lawyer thanks for tuning in today today we're gonna talk a little bit about the Fair Housing Act and what we're going to talk about applies specifically to both property management and condo associations because in both settings it's not uncommon to have a no pets policy let's put that no pets policy up against the framework of the Fair Housing Act now just so you know and in full disclosure I happen to be a pet lover here's my little friend named socks I know she's darling but if I were to try and rent a property with a no pets policy socks would not be able to come with me unless socks were a service animal or a comfort animal of my socks is not but if socks were either a comfort animal or a service animal then even with a no pets policy socks would be allowed to live in the either the rental property or the condominium notwithstanding landlord rules or condo association rules prohibiting pets moreover if landlord has a pet policy that says pets are ok but only if the tenant pays either a pet fee or a pet deposit the Fair Housing Act says a service animal or a comfort animal are allowed to occupy the property without payment of any pet fee or pet deposit the reason for this is because a landlord or a condominium associate they're the same in this scenario neither can put up a barrier to residency by a member of a protected class or said differently the landlord or this condo association must make a reasonable accommodation for the member of a protected class so if the member of a protected class is serviced by a service animal or comfort animal then the landlord's rules and the condo association rules must yield to the presence of that animal in the apartment or in the residential unit or the condominium unit now the tenant or the occupant in the condo association is still liable for any damages if any that the pet that the service animal or the comfort animal commits they just can't the landlord simply can't collect a deposit or a non-refundable fee up front and under Washington law a landlord can ask the tenant with a service animal or the condo association can ask a resident with the I'm sorry with a comfort animal for a letter from a doctor that letter as long as it says that the animal is a comfort animal would break down any barrier to that animal living in the unit this is a huge issue the Fair Housing Act laws are very well enforced in Washington State the Human Rights Commission is very protective of issues such as these and protective of protected class members ability to live with and have the services provided by a service animal or comfort animal understand these rules don't get into a violation of the Fair Housing Act it does not end well the penalties for violating the Fair Housing Act can range from monetary penalties all the way up to suspension of your real estate license this is a very serious issue please don't take it lightly I often get feedback in classes that this just seems ridiculous that a and lords or condo association rules should be able to be enforced in the face of the Fair Housing Act it's not true statement the landlord's rules and the condo association rules have to yield to the requirements the Fair Housing Act so please take this seriously if you have questions about this or any other topic please send an email to me my email address is Legal Hotline at W a realtor org I'll do my best to get an answer for you thank you once again for being a Washington Realtors member I hope you have a phenomenal day