Backed by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has taken a stand against misleading websites that are selling assistance-animal documentation.
Websites Exploiting Consumers
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will begin to investigate these websites for providing “misleading” information, such as implying that they are affiliated with the Federal Government, which isn’t the case. Many of these websites offer certifications without examining the individual, costing consumers hundreds of dollars on meaningless documentation. HUD’s General Counsel, Paul Compton, supports the investigations, stating that “These websites are using questionable business practices that exploit consumers, prejudice the legal rights of individuals with disabilities, dupe landlords, and generally interfere with good faith efforts to comply with the requirements of the Fair Housing Act,”.
Fair Housing Act
Property owners and managers are required by The Fair Housing Act, to make reasonable accommodations to allow persons with disabilities to live and enjoy residential housing, this includes allowing those who need assistance animals to keep them in their home. The certificates provided by these websites, are not an acceptable substitute for authentic documentation provided by medical professionals. HUD identified at least one website, that contained the seal of HUD without authorization, which started the letter that ask FTC to investigate these websites for compliance with federal laws.
The National Association of Realtors, President John Smaby, commends HUD for taking action, and said “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the White House to secure these much needed regulatory changes, and we urge HUD to issue the appropriate guidance in the coming weeks and months.”