Boston Real Estate for Sale

You can’t win for trying, some days.

A tenant wants to have a service dog in a building that otherwise forbids pets.

A pit bull terrier.

The landlord is nervous. About allowing the dog. And, about being sued for discrimination, should he say no.

I thought it was an interesting story.

Pit bull service dog unwelcome
Inman News

Q: A tenant who is qualified to rent an apartment has asked us to allow her to bring her service dog, which is a pit bull mix. We aren’t arguing over whether she is legally disabled, and we would normally allow the service animal on the property, even though we have a “no pets” policy. But our insurance policy forbids pit bulls, and if we allow one to live here, we risk cancellation or higher premiums. We don’t want to be slapped with a fair housing lawsuit, either. What should we do? –Henry H.

A: You’re on the right track by realizing that when a disabled tenant’s reasonable request runs up against a policy or rule of yours, you need to consider adjusting that policy in order to accommodate the tenant. But your duty to accommodate isn’t absolute — if the tenant’s request would result in an undue financial or administrative burden on your business, you may decline to make the accommodation.

Before deciding whether to allow the dog on the property, get all the facts straight. Contact your insurance carrier directly and ask for written substantiation of their response should you allow a pit bull to live in the rental. Ask them to waive this policy in light of the request from a disabled tenant. Find out whether comparable insurance coverage, without dog breed restrictions, exists on the market, and how much it would cost to switch. Make your decision based on what you learn — if your carrier won’t budge, and alternate coverage is prohibitively expensive, you may be able to legally deny the request. On the other hand, if there’s a reasonable workaround, you ought to consider it.

If your insurance carrier holds firm on its policy, you might be wondering — isn’t the company obligated to make an accommodation for housing that has service animals, by relaxing its “no pit bulls” condition when the pit bull is a service animal? It would be interesting to see what the U.S. Department of Justice, which enforces the federal fair housing laws, would have to say about an insurance carrier that has a policy of refusing to insure any housing that has pit bulls, without exception for assistance animals. If you decide to accommodate your tenant and run into problems with your carrier, you might consider raising this issue with your local HUD regional office.

Source: Pit bull service dog unwelcome Pit bull service dog unwelcome – By Janet Portman, Inman News

Call Now