On August 19, 2014, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it had charged Kent State University, in Ohio, with violating the federal Fair Housing Act by preventing a student with a disability from having an emotional support animal in her campus apartment. The complaint was brought by the student, her husband, and the Fair Housing Advocates Association (FHAA, a non-profit agency located in Akron, OH.
According to a HUD press release about the case,
The student and her husband lived in university-owned and operated housing that is set aside for upperclassmen and their families. A university psychologist treating the student documented her disabilities and wrote a letter stating that the best way for the student to cope with her disabilities was having a support animal. The student subsequently obtained a dog and submitted a reasonable accommodation request to the university seeking a waiver to the apartment complex’s “no pets” rule.
In her complaint, the student alleged that the university offered her academic accommodations, which she did not need, but denied her request to keep her support animal. As a result of the denial, the student and her husband were forced to move to an apartment the university did not own. Shortly after the move, the student and her husband contacted FHAA.
The federal Fair Housing Act and North Carolina’s State Fair Housing Act both prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status. The laws further make it unlawful to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices when a person with a disability requires such an accommodation, including refusing to grant waivers to “no pet” policies for persons who use service, assistance, or support animals.
HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Gustavo Valasquez, stated: “Many people with disabilities rely on therapy animals to enhance their quality of life. The Fair Housing Act protects their right to a service animal and HUD is committed to taking action whenever the nation’s fair housing laws are violated.”
To read HUD’s press release about the case, click here.