HUD Guidance on Assistance Animals

Good read for an update on service vs assistance animals from HUD.

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Clicking through the press release gets a 19 page pdf of the actual policy. My first read before 6am is that it will be beneficial to housing providers.

Anyone else?

The actual release is attached. I agree this will be beneficial to housing providers and residents with real assistance needs.

I plan to put this in our SOPs in a slightly more digestible format.

HUDAsstAnimalNC1-28-2020 (1).pdf (325.2 KB)

Im seeing this well intended law abused by residents on a regular basis now! Disgusting!

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JAY-E, the guidance actually mentions websites that that sell cheap letters or poorly trained animals. I think it will make our lives a little easier.

Tell me you need an accommodation? OK, but I can ask to meet the dog and what tasks he performs, without asking about the disability (still illegal). Untrained or poor behavior? I’m more comfortable saying ‘no, thanks.’

Maybe this policy is the beginning of the pendulum swinging back the other way, or at least better definitions for the armchair lawyers who want to abuse the law.


Here’s what we recommend with all tenant claims for assistance / emotional support animal waivers:

  1. Have them sign an affirmation the dog is safe and is a medical necessity / Forms
  2. Have them provide a note from a medical professional, dated within a year, that states the animal is a medical necessity, and
  3. Have them provide a note from a Vet, dated within a year, that the animal is up to date on its shots



Careful. Legal therapy pets still count. Many people suffer with “invisible” disabilities of mental health, and by law do not have to disclose what their disability is. Actually, you are not allowed to ask the details of the accommodation. So by you requiring it to be a “service animal” might you up for discrimination charges. I work in mental health, and have clients who have bona fide therapist sanctioned therapy pets.

Shamrock I believe you are referring primarily to emotional support animals which do not fall under the category of true assistance animals which have been specially trained to serve a actual physical function.

Shamrock, I never said that. The law says I can ask what tasks the animal performs and I can ask to see the medical prescription.

If the dog is unruly or appears dangerous (actions, not size/shape), a reasonable landlord is going to say no.

Your bias seems to be that landlords are mean or evil people if you disagree with their decisions or policies. I’m trying to run a business, pay my taxes, and care for my tenants and property, not run off paying customers.

Wanderer, I never inferred “mean” or “evil landlords,” above whatsoever so please stop projecting.

An emotional support pet does not need to perform any “tasks” is all I am saying. By asking “what tasks the animal performs,“ you are (in a roundabout way) asking about the person’s disability.

If it’s an invisible disability, they are protected by law. You can’t ask someone what their disability is, nor to give you the details. You can ask for documentation for the pet, and that’s all. Medical and mental health professionals, cannot even tell you whether they even see a person as a patient or not. It’s a violation of HIPPA laws. I say this should you want to call the referring professional for validation. They are not supposed to discuss the patient/client without the person’s written permission.

A doctor, or a clinician can write a note simply stating the need for a therapy pet, or that the existing pet is important and therapeutic. I see some mobile home investors view that as a scam, but many times it’s quite serious that that person have an emotional support pet.

By the way, It is not always a “prescription” as in the same way a prescription is written for medicines at the pharmacy.

Copied from the HUD PDF file linked at the beginning of this thread (bold added by me):

Certain impairments, however, especially including impairments that may form the basis for
a request for an emotional support animal, may not be observable. In those instances, a
housing provider may request information regarding both the disability and the disability related need for the animal. Housing providers are not entitled to know an individual’s
diagnosis. (I left the last sentence on because it seems to refine the bold text in a relevant way.)

Given the section below, I may be splitting hairs on the ‘prescription,’ but the HUD guidance does say a licensed professional.

• Reasonably supporting information often consists of information from a licensed health care
professional – e.g., physician, optometrist, psychiatrist, psychologist, physician’s assistant,
nurse practitioner, or nurse – general to the condition but specific as to the individual with a
disability and the assistance or therapeutic emotional support provided by the animal.

For non-observable disabilities and animals that provide therapeutic emotional support, a
housing provider may ask for information that is consistent with that identified in the
Guidance on Documenting an Individual’s Need for Assistance Animals in Housing (*see
Questions 6 and 7) in order to conduct an individualized assessment of whether it must
provide the accommodation under the Fair Housing Act. The lack of such documentation in
many cases may be reasonable grounds for denying a requested accommodation.

As to the safety of others on my property:

The FHA does not require a dwelling to be made available to an individual whose tenancy
would constitute a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals or whose tenancy
would result in substantial physical damage to the property of others. A housing provider
may, therefore, refuse a reasonable accommodation for an assistance animal if the specific
animal poses a direct threat that cannot be eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level
through actions the individual takes to maintain or control the animal.

So, no I won’t ask a tenant what their diagnosis is, but I can ask for a reasonable explanation of what the dog does. For this discussion, I will lump ‘calming anxiety’ in as a ‘task’ performed by the animal. If the animal does not appear to be well-trained or controlled, I will view the application unfavorably.

As to ‘projecting,’ I’m going to stand behind my words. You claim to work in social services and mental health. I have no reason to doubt you and respect you for staying in an underappreciated and often under-paying field. BUT, I rarely see a post from you that I would consider pro-park owner. You claimed to be a decades-long environmentalist and threatened to call every single group to stop an owner from taking care of his property in the ‘Park Owner and Tree Removal’ thread today. You complain about landlords bringing rents and water charges into line with the market or competing forms of housing. Taxes, utilities, insurance are all costs the business has to bear and none of them ever seem to decrease.

You want to give us advise on running our businesses, but you are like an armchair general who has never fired a weapon or quarterback who has never touched a football, let alone gotten dirty on either field. If this is entertainment, go watch from the bleachers. If you want to understand, roll up your sleeves and take on the responsibility of providing housing to a tenant.


Wanderer, part of my job is to help provide housing for low income disabled people. Many live in 2 poorly managed mobile home parks in my region. My parents also lived in a 3rd, well run park for nearly 2 decades, that was under the same family management for 60 years, that was sold. I handle all my parents affairs, as well as know the housing affairs of clients, so I do read leases, and deal with park managements.

The changes (in my parent’s park) are making it unaffordable for anyone on a fixed or subsidized income, and my parent’s park has a lot of aging folks, and low income but was always previously managed with affordability, kindness, and great respect. Now it’s all about profit, and disregard for long time tenants.

I am, with others, trying to learn about park ownership so that we can purchase one. What I perceive on this site is ongoing anger rants, frustration, and lack of respect for tenants by some frequent posters. Stereotyping and judgements seem to run rampant. There are a few posters with compassion and understanding for the tenants, but others only complain about how horrible their tenants are, and how fast to evict them and get higher paying “quality” tenants. I hear only about how to get more profit, make tenants pay for every single thing possible (who do not retain any ownership nor security in their future). Tenants can’t just move their homes elsewhere, and it’s not always easy nor fast to sell. (One tenant I know had the money from a buyer in her hand, but then the park owner stopped the sale of her home. This woman is elderly and disabled. )

I just do not understand the owner mindset, so forgive me as I try to learn. I come from a social services standpoint, not a profit/business one.

As for trees, they add real estate value, erosion control, cooling effects, as well as aesthetic value. They also absorb soundS, give privacy, and are carbon absorbers. Trees can be of great value when not near septic lines. No need to cut them all down and create a wasted dead expanse of lawn. Trees also cut down on watering costs.

I do think this site needs people like me to give a different viewpoint— to give a bit of balance. I have learned a lot about park ownership here. It’s important to understand a business from all sides, and mindsets.

I’m done with this thread. Being lectured on how to run a business by someone who’s never done so is laughable.

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Andersen, I have had my own business In the past. And this site is for future investors as well as current owners.

From my perspective as a investor it is the governments responsibility to provide affordable housing, with my tax dollars. My priority is in operating a successful business. Housing I invest in may be affordable but only to those that can afford it, I do not operate as a charity.
I do not intend this in a disrespectful manner simply as a statement of fact. If you do not understand a business/investor mind set you can not fit into a investment forum such as this. We already have the correct view point to operate a successful business. By maximising profits we are able to afford to provide the best possible experience for residents.
Do not become a investor with the intent of providing affordable housing. Invest in affordable housing with the intent of operating a successful business.