Question & Answer
Question: We are processing a loan application from a company that plans to construct an apartment building. In their materials for a similar project in another state, there is a statement: "No pets; no exceptions!" They promote their buildings as an allergy free environment. My question is can they refuse to rent to someone with a seeing eye dog? Would that violate ADA?
Answer: The no pets policy is ok as long as it doesn't discriminate on a prohibited basis. Here, however, the no exceptions policy would prevent a blind person from being able to live in the building. That would violate ADA but also the Fair Housing Act.
We get so used to thinking of the ECOA prohibited bases that we sometimes overlook the fact that the Fair Housing Act has two prohibited bases that are not included in ECOA. In addition to the usual list of race, color, religion, etc., the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of familial status and handicap. HUD has interpreted the Fair Housing Act to prevent a landlord from excluding seeing eye dogs.
Copyright © 1998 Compliance Action. Originally appeared in Compliance Action, Vol. 3 , No. 5 & 6, 4/98
First published on 04/01/1998