U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson is seeking action against online companies that profit from selling sham assistance animal documentation at the expense of rental housing providers and renters who have legitimate needs. These companies’ documents are intended to justify reasonable accommodation requests for assistance animals (service animals and emotional support animals (ESAs)) in housing but are often used to skirt pet restrictions under false pretenses.
In a letter sent to Chairman of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Joseph J. Simons and Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection Andrew Smith, Secretary Carson expresses several concerns in line with those of the apartment industry and asks the FTC to investigate some websites selling assistance animal verification documents. As HUD General Counsel Paul Compton states, “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.”
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