According to a recent Department of Justice (DOJ) settlement, some pets are allowed in the house. HUD filed and settled a civil rights lawsuit against RiverBay Corporation, a New York City-based affordable housing cooperative manager that owns and operates 15,372 residential units – the largest housing cooperative in the country, claiming the company maintained no-pets policies violating Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines for accommodating individuals with disabilities.
In light of the settlement’s complexities, the DOJ issued new guidance on ADA distinctions of service animals and their purpose, and clarified requirements for accommodating individuals who need them. The guidance restates that government agencies, public-serving businesses, and nonprofit organizations must comply with ADA service animal requirements, but also emphasizes that institutions of higher education should consider all efforts to remain compliant with ADA standards while balancing to the equal access needs of students with allergies on campus and in dormitories. The DOJ provides additional information that clarifies questions businesses and property managers may have regarding public health and safety concerns for service animals accessing pool grounds, open food areas, and hospital facilities.
While there are likely to be future concerns and developments regarding ADA requirements for service animals, it is important to remain mindful of the way private policies relate to the access and compliance standards set forth for those with service animals. Please see our legal alert for additional considerations and discussion points.