We have some prospective tenants wanting to rent a house where the Owner does not want to allow pets. He had a tenant there who didn't take good care of a dog, didn't clean up the backyard, etc. When the prospective tenants brought in their rental applications they listed a service animal.
OK, no problem. We've dealt with this many times. As long as they have documentation, that animal IS NOT considered a pet. Fair Housing rules say we can NOT discriminate against that animal.
BUT (and it's a big but) this animal is NOT fulfilling a need for any of the would be tenants. They take the animal to the hospital as a therapy dog, but none of the family is, themselves, disabled.
My husband and I argued this back and forth awhile, and then I called a hotline for the ADA, which gave me a hotline for Fair Housing. (Well, not sure how hot it is- kind of a run-around. But I DID get through to someone finally). I explained the situation, the lady put me on hold while she talked to her supervisor, and they finally gave me an answer. Which, ahem, agrees with the side I was arguing. Here it is:
Since the animal is not fulfilling a need as a service animal for any disabled person who would be living at the property, IT IS NOT A FAIR HOUSING ISSUE. The animal is not protected. Fair Housing deals with protected classes of people. Since none of the people applying are in any of the seven protected classes, the animal IS a pet, and is not protected.
Helpful numbers; ADA information line: 1-800-514-0301, Fair Housing line: 1-800-669-9777