What's The Law?
Most service animals can be approved
Is it illegal for an apartment complex to evict a disabled person who uses a different and nonthreatening service animal? I use a pony that stands 4 feet at the shoulder and easily fits through the door. As I am mobility, visually and epileptically impaired, a dog won't do. I have proof of disability, and the pony is trained as a service animal.
Can they evict me just because they can't get over that it's not a dog?
Answer: From Cynthia Thomas, Legal Aid fair-housing project manager: Generally, it is illegal to discriminate against a person in housing on the basis of disability, subject to certain exceptions. Fair-housing laws do not specify, limit or restrict what types of animals may be service animals -- they can be any type of animal that is trained to provide a disability-related service. While it might be illegal to evict a person because of their disability or because of the type of service animal, keep in mind there could be legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons that a disabled person with a service animal could be evicted: if the service animal is a threat/danger (e.g., bites, attacks), if the person is not complying with reasonable conditions for keeping the service animal (e.g., leash laws, pickup laws) or if the animal is otherwise illegal (e.g., keeping a farm animal in a residential zone). A disabled person is still required to comply with all other basic tenancy requirements including paying rent, keeping their unit in a sanitary condition and adhering to reasonable house rules. If the tenant is not meeting these basic requirements, this could be grounds for eviction despite the presence of a disability.
Q: Is it true that people who use Legal Aid's services do not have to pay?
A: The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii is a nonprofit, public-interest law firm that provides free civil legal services to Hawaii's low- to moderate-income community. We do not do criminal law. Depending upon your income level and your needs, Legal Aid's services are, in fact, free. For those who do not qualify for free services but are of moderate income, we have an Affordable Lawyers Project which provides low-cost legal services.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
or by U.S. mail to Legal Aid Q&A, 924 Bethel St., Honolulu, HI 96813.