Did you know....That a housing provider [Apartment for example] could be in violation of the Fair Housing Act by requiring some of the popular so-called “service animal” certification documents? As the team here at Fair Housing Advocates, Inc., continues to educate both consumers and housing providers, we notice some very troubling misconceptions regarding which documents can actually be requested to permit a bona fide service animal on property.
To be clear, proper documentation would need to come from a “reliable source” and would have to both verify the disability of the consumer and verify the disability-related need for the service animal. “Reliable source” could mean a letter from a physician, another medical professional, or even a licensed clinical social worker. In some circumstances "reliable source" could come from an employer, a neighbor, a best friend and other people with first-hand knowledge of the disabled person's disability and need.
Beware, however, of the many online 'service dog' organizations which require disabled individuals pay for service animal verification “packages.” From our research, these packages can range from fifty to approximately two-hundred dollars. These packages can include a leash, vest, registration card and even a “certification card.” But does this package actually help any disabled person verify their disability or disability-related need for the purposes of supporting a reasonable accommodation? NO.
Unfortunately, many of these organizations are not legitimate in terms of their “certification” and “registration” since neither are required for your Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal.
To learn more about your fair housing rights, reach us to arrange a no cost consultation or to enroll in a fair housing education webinar. We have webinars specifically for our disabled active duty service members, first responders, and military veterans.