Your Fair Housing Questions Answered - Part 3 - The Fair Housing Institute, Inc.

Your Fair Housing Questions Answered – Part 3

We’re back with part three of Your Fair Housing Questions Answered. We again want to thank our wonderful community for continuing to share their thoughts. If you haven’t already, please let us know your questions, and we will be sure to feature them in a future episode. Let’s get started!

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

What should a housing provider do if they receive a letter from a healthcare provider that discloses specifics about a resident’s medical condition, diagnosis, treatment, or other personal information about that individual’s medical history?

This is a great question! First of all, remember that you can never ask for medical records. So if what you are given looks like a medical record, you should return it to whoever gave it to you. For instance, it might’ve been the resident, or it might’ve been a doctor’s office who was responding to your request for verification. Either way, you need to return it to whoever gave it to you.

However, if it is, for instance, a doctor’s letter that only includes a diagnosis, it’s fine to keep it in your file. So you have to judge it based on how much individual and detailed information there is. If it’s too much, return it and ask for only the information you need to make your decision about the reasonable accommodation.

In Episode 15, you made it clear that an ESA is not a pet. But, in Episode 32 – Your ESA Questions Answered, you talked about tenants avoiding pet fees. Is it okay for a landlord to charge the non-refundable pet fee for each ESA? Can I charge a higher fee if the animal is larger or of a breed that I normally don’t allow?

The answer is no; even in consideration of your existing pet policy, you cannot charge any type of fee for an ESA or emotional support animal. This applies regardless of the size, the breed, or whatever the details are about that animal. Absolutely no fees can be assigned.

The resident requests a reasonable accommodation for a live-in aide and would like to know what the process is for this request, such as what will the live-in aide need to provide if the request is approved. Question: Must the housing provider have this information available at the time of the request for the resident?

You should have a policy and process that you follow each time a resident requests a live-in aide. This would include a form where the resident fills out or answers some questions to verify their need for a full-time live-in aide if their disability is not apparent.

In addition, you should have a process to screen the potential live-in aide. You can screen live-in aides for basic things such as criminal history and past tenancy history, as this person will be living on your property, making this a reasonable request. Of course, you wouldn’t need to screen for credit as the live-in aide would not be paying for rent.

These were some fantastic questions! Please keep them coming so we can all have a share in promoting fair housing education.

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