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Category Archives: Pennsylvania

Nice to See: A Very Active US Department of Housing and Urban Affairs

Often referred to as HUD, the US Department of Housing and Urban Affairs has been tearing thought the news lately with an aggressive policy of charges against condominiums and HOAs failing to offer basic accommodation to the disabled.

Hurray! This week HUD charged Philadelphia Parkway Condos with violating the Fair Housing Act for refusing to revise its “no pets” policy for residents requiring assistance animals.

Indeed, the Parkway Condos go out of their way to attempt to circumvent the necessity of allowing assistance animals. From HUD’s charge:

In a new 2011 policy, the POA issued detailed “Instructions for Physicians for Documenting Disability under the Federal Fair Housing Act,” which required exhaustive documentation to support a doctor’s opinion about the necessity of an assistance animal, and stated, “it may be necessary for you [the doctor] to testify under oath in federal court about your opinion.”  The 2011 policy banned persons using assistance animals from accessing the main lobby, shuttle bus, social rooms, fitness rooms, mail room, and laundry room, and required them to use the service elevator.

Says John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity:

Assistance animals are not pets. They play a vital role in helping people with disabilities conduct everyday activities and fully enjoy their homes … Condominium associations have a responsibility under the Fair Housing Act to grant reasonable accommodations when they are needed.

I can only full-heartedly agree. Condominium and HOA should, by nature, be designed for accommodation. This not only includes the requirement for allowing owners with disabilities pet exemptions, but others – for example, those with Multiple Sclerosis to have air conditioning (for buildings that ban it for “the look it applies to the exterior of the building”).

There is no reason that exceptions cannot be made for those in need. An exception to the bylaws in no way harms neighbours, effects resale value, or lower the community’s standard of living.

People who believe they are victims of housing discrimination in the US can contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777 to get advice and report the incident.