Disability Discrimination Update: Assistance Animals, ESA Letters, Mental Health Professionals [LCSW, LMHC], & Swimming Pool Rules

Since we have been rather dormant lately, at least in blogging, we decided to layout most types of housing discrimination we see affecting the disabled in an easy to see format. This time, we've added violations which specifically involve the mental health professional, the ESA Letter, and some swimming pool rules which affect those whom suffer from incontinence.

Disability Discrimination

Our organization has noticed a sharp increase in housing discrimination affecting disabled persons, especially those who require an Emotional Support Animal, or a Service Animal, to enjoy the benefits of Fair Housing. Below are the most common types of fair housing violations affecting the disabled, to include those who require assistance animals.

Three Most Common Fair Housing Violation Areas:

  1. Pet Rules Violations:
    Prohibiting an Assistance Animal because of its Weight, Size, or Breed, or charging a Pet Fee or Deposit for any Assistance Animal, or denying an assistance animal in favor of a “no pets” rule.

  2. Use of Property Violations:
    Prohibiting an Assistance Animal from accessing any of the amenities and common areas like the pool area, the club house, and the fitness center, or restricting access to social functions on the property

  3. Terms & Conditions Violations:
    Requiring a disabled person with an assistance animal to agree to additional steps during the application process to qualify for a dwelling, such as: purchasing of insurance, wearing of a muzzle, requiring proof of training, requiring verification letter from a doctor only, requiring direct access to the disabled person’s medical professional, prohibiting assistance animals from living in carpeted units, etc.

Most Common Assistance Animal Violations

  1. An Assistance Animal is being denied housing because of its Breed, Weight, or Size. [Pit Bull, German Shepherd etc.]
  2. An Assistance Animal is being charged a Pet Rent, Pet Fee, or Pet Deposit
  3. An Assistance Animal is being denied access to Common Areas: swimming pool area, club house, fitness center, or any other common use area or amenity.
  4. A housing provider requires the disabled person sign a waiver so the housing provider can call or interact with their physician or mental health professional.
  5. An Assistance Animal is required to attend a “Pet Interview” or any other inspection
  6. An Assistance Animal is denied because the property’s Insurance policy prohibits it
  7. An Assistance Animal is required to have “Proof of Training”
  8. An Emotional Support Animal is denied housing because it is not a Service Animal
  9. A Housing Provider would only accept a “Doctor’s Letter” because a letter from anyone not a doctor is not accepted.
  10. A Housing Provider requires direct contact with the medical professional, or requires the medical professional to sign an Affidavit, or complete forms

Violations Involving Landlords, Mental Health Professionals, and Medical Records

  1. A Landlord requires a disabled person to sign a medical release waiver, so that the property can contact and interact with the disabled person’s physician, or mental health professional.
  2. A landlord requires the disabled person to complete an additional questionnaire which would reveal detailed and unnecessary information about one’s disability
  3. A landlord contacts the mental health professional by telephone to confirm the disabled person’s condition
  4. A landlord requires the mental health professional to complete a questionnaire which reveals information not necessary to verify one’s disability
  5. A landlord requires the mental health professional to sign an affidavit requiring a court appearance

Violations Involving Swimming Pool Rules Affecting the Disabled, the Incontinent, and Children

Many swimming pool and club house rules enforced by HOAs, Condo Associations, apartment complexes and mobile home parks actually adversely affect children [Familial Status] and the Incontinent [the Disabled] in violation of the Fair Housing Act even if the intention is to protect children, or protect the community from health hazards. Since incontinence is a disability, most rules addressing incontinence can pose a threat of disability discrimination. Likewise, rules prohibiting “swim diapers” can affect children as well as disabled adults, depending upon the wording of the rule.
Any of the following rules are violations of the FHAct:

  1. No persons wearing swim diapers are allowed in the pool
  2. Children wearing swim-diapers are not permitted in the pool
  3. Non-potty-trained children not permitted in the pool
  4. Non-potty trained children are only allowed in the kiddie pool
  5. No incontinent persons permitted in the pool
  6. Disabled persons cannot use the hot tub, or swimming pool, unattended

Please reach Fair Housing Advocates if you need any help with your accommodation request process, or need help defending your housing rights because the landlord is subjecting you to unfair rules, regulations, or discriminatory policies because you are disabled and require an assistance animal. Reach FHA at info@fairhousingact.org or 877.838.9963. We provide No-Cost fair housing advice, training, education, counseling, and representation if you need us to help you file a fair housing complaint.

Fair Housing Advocate

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