Disability may entitle tenant to get pet
Question: Who do fair housing laws protect?
Answer: According to Cynthia Thomas, Legal Aid's fair housing project manager, Hawaii fair housing laws protect people from being discriminated against for the following reasons: race, color, national origin, religion, familial status (e.g., pregnancy, living with children under the age of 18, etc.), disability, gender, age, marital status, HIV infection, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression.
Q: I am a landlord and I want to follow the laws. Are there any local agencies that provide training on fair housing laws?
A: From Cynthia: April is National Fair Housing Month. To promote awareness of -- and compliance with -- fair housing laws, various state agencies are collaborating with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development to provide free fair housing training statewide during the month. To learn more about these events, call the Legal Aid Society's Fair Housing Hotline at 527-8024.
Q: I live in a condo that has a "no-pets" policy. My doctor recommended that I get a companion animal to help me cope with the effects of my mental disability. What should I do?
A: From Cynthia: You should ask your condo association for an exception to the no-pet policy. Fair Housing laws call this exception a "reasonable accommodation." These are necessary changes to rules, policies, practices, or services so that a disabled person can use and enjoy their home. Under fair housing laws, landlords and other housing providers (such as condo associations) must allow "reasonable accommodations" when the accommodation is necessary. Be aware that you may need to provide a doctor's note that verifies you have a disability and a need for the accommodation.
If you have questions about your fair housing rights, or feel your fair housing rights have been violated, please call our Fair Housing Enforcement Program on Oahu at 527-8024 or on the Neighbor Islands at (866) 527-3247.
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii operates statewide. Practice areas include housing, public benefits, consumer and family law, but not criminal law. For information, call 536-4302. Submit questions by e-mail to email@example.com
or to Legal Aid Q&A, 924 Bethel St., Honolulu, HI 96813.