A new study of 8,600 assistance animal accommodation requests for rental housing shows that 39 percent of requests were recommended for approval, 43 percent did not continue with the review and 18 percent did not provide sufficient documentation, were unresponsive or were possible fraud.
The study, done by PetScreening.com, of 8,600 reasonable accommodation requests submitted to the company by prospective residents, also known as requesters, found that the pit bull variety is the dog breed most commonly submitted for reasonable accommodation requests.
The results of the study highlight the importance of properly confirming the reliability and credibility of third-party verifier documentation for reasonable accommodation requests, according to John R. Bradford, III, CEO and founder of PetScreening.com, which is based in Charlotte, N.C., and operates in all 50 states and Canada.
Reasonable assistance animal accommodation
“For individuals who do not have a readily apparent disability, requiring and reviewing third-party verifier documentation to support the requester’s reasonable accommodation request is critical. This maintains the integrity of necessary and legitimate assistance animals for individuals with a disability and disability-related need for the animals,” Bradford said in a release.
“Unfortunately, there are bad actors that are abusing this process to possibly avoid pet rent or circumvent pet policies, such as breed restrictions. There are many individuals with legitimate disabilities and disability-related needs for assistance animals, who shouldn’t be put at risk or receive a negative reputation just because of these bad actors.”
The pet-screening platform empowers property managers to outsource their pet-risk assessment and assistance animal-validation processes at no charge.
According to the release, property managers are often hesitant to ask for third-party verifier documentation for fear of violating Fair Housing laws and HUD guidelines, making it difficult to uphold the integrity of the accommodation-request review process. But new technology and databases, like PetScreening.com, help address these concerns by using electronic accommodation-request review processes and an in-house legal-review team. They review each reasonable accommodation request, adhere to the FHAct guidelines, and validate the third-party verifier documentation as being reliable, credible and meeting the test of reasonableness.
This standardizes the property manager’s reasonable-accommodation-request review process, saves time and helps mitigate liability for a possible discrimination complaint. Submitting a reasonable accommodation request for an assistance animal through the PetScreening platform is free to both the requester and the property manager, according to the release.
There is a cost for screening regular household pets who are not assistance animals. Applicants with a regular pet pay a $20 fee at the time they apply for a rental home and enter information about their specific pet, including their general care and understanding of pet policies, into the only centralized pet-screening database to analyze rental-housing-related risk. The platform reviews various pet-related factors, including community-specific restrictions, such as breed, weight and age, and then creates a “FIDO Score.” This proprietary scoring system can be used to generate new pet-related revenue opportunities such as additional pet rents, non-refundable fees, and deposits – with the primary purpose being to help cover any additional risk the housing provider is taking with the pet and its owner.
Property managers can also require non-pet owners, at no charge, to formally acknowledge pet-related policies that apply to them at the time of application. Through Petscreening.com, non-pet owners agree to policies that, among other examples, prohibit them from using their homes for pet-sitting services and require them to properly report any pet or animal they acquire during their lease term. PetScreening also provides property managers with the ability to record and report noteworthy pet and animal incidents. Examples include bites, property damage, unauthorized pets, pet-waste offenders and more. These incident reports are shown in the digital profiles and follow the pet and pet owner to future rentals – ensuring that future property managers and owners are aware of previous concerning behavior.
PetScreening.com helps property managers and housing providers manage their housing-related pet risk and validate assistance animals for free while generating more opportunities for pet-related revenue. The proprietary screening platform adds an additional layer of liability protection by having a standardized process when dealing with household pets and assistance animals. It also helps with assistance-animal accommodation-request validation through a comprehensive legal and FHAct/HUD guideline review process. The end result is a Pet Profile with FIDO Score based on pet specific information such as breed, pictures, weight, vaccination records, and behavior.