HUD Asks Federal Trade Commission to Investigate Assistance Animal Websites
It is a situation that nearly every manufactured home community in the country has faced. A resident presents the manager with a certificate they purchased on-line declaring that an animal in their home is something more than just a beloved pet violating the community’s pet policy. They declare the certificate has somehow transformed their pet into an “Assistance Animal” for which the resident is entitled a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act.
Recently, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ben Carson asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate these web sites that pump out bogus certificates.
“These certificates are not an acceptable substitute for authentic documentation provided by medical professionals when appropriate,” said Secretary Carson. “These websites that sell assistance animal certificates are often also misleading by implying that they are affiliated with the federal government. Nothing could be further from the truth. Their goal is to convince individuals with disabilities that they need to spend hundreds of dollars on worthless documentation to keep their assistance animal in their homes.”
HUD’s General Counsel Paul Compton added, “The Fair Housing Act provides for the use of assistance animals by individuals with disabilities. Under the law, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits at least one major life activity or bodily function. These websites are using questionable business practices that exploit consumers, prejudice the legal rights of individuals with disabilities, dupe landlords, and generally interfere with good faith efforts to comply with the requirements of the Fair Housing Act.”