The increased use of emotional support animals, specifically dogs, has gained a semblance of acceptance due to their therapeutic benefits for people dealing with a variety of issues. Conversely, their rising prominence has also presented challenges to co-op boards who want to maintain a pet-free environment, an appealing feature for those searching for housing.
However, accommodations can be made with a legitimate request from a prospective tenant legally considered disabled. In addition, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has mandates in place that residential properties provide accommodations for these types of pets.
Housing providers’ obligations
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) covers all types of public and privately-owned dwellings, including what is covered by the ADA. Simply put, housing providers are obligated to comply, particularly when it comes to animals that work, provide assistance, or help with tasks for people with disabilities. The ADA also accounts for those in need of emotional support related to those conditions.
As with any new program to make lives easier for those with disabilities, abuse of the law and outright scams often follow implementation. Many healthcare professionals are a bit fast and loose with allowing requests for support animals in residential facilities. Frequently, their actions rise to the level of criminal penalties for fraudulent requests.
Many consider online support animal registries and certifications as insufficient proof, specifically identification cards, certificates, or even patches. Similarly, medical professionals must have personal knowledge of the prospective resident’s disability and its application to the need for an emotional support animal.
Emotional support animals remain a work in progress. Over time, acceptance of this form of therapy can allow people with emotional and physical challenges to live fulfilling lives.