SERVICE ANIMALS: THE ADA VS. THE FAIR HOUSING ACT

Guest Blogger:  Jo Becker, Education/Outreach Specialist, Fair Housing Council of Oregon
———————————————————————————————————

I know this article is needed because we get these questions frequently:

• “The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) says that service animals have to be trained or certified…”

The ADA was recently changed, how does that affect the need to accommodate disability-related animals in housing?”

• “The ADA now only allows for the use of service dogs and, sometimes, miniature horses. Does that mean I can serve an eviction notice to those I’ve accommodated in the past with companion kitties?”

And so it goes.

Folks, there’s a fundamental point that many are missing. The ADA is not the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The ADA has nothing to do with the FHA. Changes to the ADA have no effect on the FHA. In fact, to a great extent, the ADA has little to do with housing at all. Unfortunately, the ADA has been in the news a good deal and articles about it rarely delve into the fact that disability-related animals in housing is a different critter all together.

The ADA addresses public accommodations in businesses, restaurants, and the like. The only place it touches the housing industry is where is speaks to 1) the accessibility needs of model homes and sales / rental offices and 2) the accessibility requirements of any publicly available places within a housing complex (for example, a community center available for anyone to rent for private functions).
The FHA, on the other hand, deals with housing. The portion of this federal law that addresses disability as a protected class includes provisions for reasonable accommodations and modifications. The request for a disability-related animal despite a no-pets (or other pet-restricted) policy is, in fact, one of the more common reasonable accommodation requests we see in housing of all kinds—rental, sales, homeowners associations, manufactured home parks, etc. And it’s not surprising given the range of services such animals can provide and knowing that an even broader array of medical conditions that can benefit from such treatment.

In housing, under the FHA, it doesn’t matter what you call them (service animals, companion animals, therapy animals, assistance animals, aid animals, working animals, etc.); if the animal exists to serve the individual’s disability it is not legally a pet and may not be treated as such. That means no pet fees, pet deposits, pet rent, and no increased security or cleaning deposit simply because the animal exists. You may not restrict such animals by breed or species in housing. You may not request or require proof of training or certification for such animals in housing. You may have assistance animal rules as long as they’re no more restrictive than any pet rules you may have. Now, as with any other accommodation / modification request, the disability-animal request must, too, be “reasonable” and the resident is responsible for their animal. That means that you would be within your rights to respond to the service bird that shrieks at two in the morning, the companion cat that attacks other residents, or the seeing-eye-dog that soils the carpet.

For a wealth of information on disability as a protected class visit http://www.FHCO.org/disability.htm.  For service animal-specific information look to http://www.FHCO.org/serviceanimals.htm  which includes a memo from HUD on the new ADA regulations and what that means for service animals in housing under the FHA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
You can download and pass on our Reasonable Accommodation / Modification Guide for Perplexed Medical or Therapeutic Professionals at www.FHCO.org/pdfs/RAguide.pdf. And, check out several related sample documents at http://www.FHCO.org/forms.htm.
This article brought to you by the Fair Housing Council; a nonprofit serving the state of Oregon and SW Washington. Learn more and / or sign up for our free, periodic newsletter at FHCO.org.
Qs about your rights and responsibilities under fair housing laws?

Visit FHCO.org or call 1-800-424-3247 Ext. 2.
Qs about this article? Want to schedule an in-office fair housing training program or speaker for corporate or association functions?

Contact Jo Becker at jbecker@FHCO.org  or 503/453-4016.
Have property to promote?

Advertise vacancies or for-sales free across the Portland / Vancouver market at HousingConnections.org!

Smoke-Free Homes Are Good For The Real Estate Market

Guest Blogger: Jo Becker, Education/Outreach Specialist, Fair Housing Council of Oregon

(See below for FREE  materials you can copy and customize for with your clients!)______________________________________________________________________

As sales professionals, you know the importance of resale value. You most likely counsel your clients on a myriad of ways to protect and enhance property value. Something gaining in importance, as fewer and fewer people smoke and most smokers smoke outside, is the detrimental impact of smoking on the salability of a home.

We’ve all been in them… those listings that smell so bad folks turn around and walk right back out. Hopefully that wasn’t your own listing! But even if it was, fear not. The good news is there are new tools available for you to use with your clients! In collaboration with the Oregon Smokefree Housing Project (funded by the Oregon Health Authority), we have created four pieces for you to personalize with your name and contact info. and pass on to clients and prospects:

Two articles are available in Word for you to copy / paste into your own print or electronic newsletters or other mailings:

1. Article for Homeowners: This article is for folks who may not be thinking about resale value now but, as their trusted agent, you can help them keep such important principals in mind for when they do sell. They may not consider the long-term effect that smoking (or allowing others to smoke) in their home will have on how much they can get for the property, or how long it takes to sell it. This article will help enlighten them; for example, did you know 91% of Oregonians prefer housing that has not been smoked in?

2. Article for Residential Investors: This market is very bottom line conscious. They are probably well aware how costly it is to turnover a unit that’s been smoked in but they may not realize that it is not only legal, but a current trend, to implement no-smoking policies for rentals. By using this article to keep in touch with them you can go a step further then discussing obvious clean up costs to actually quantify the market demand for no-smoking rentals. Did you realize that even of those who smoke, 69% of them choose not to do so in their own homes? The vast majority of the marketplace wants “smokefree” housing making no-smoking policies a win-win for investors.

3. “Preparing Your Home for Sale” is a handout you can share with all of your sellers. It offers comprehensive staging and preparation tips from the exterior to interior including the front façade, the grounds, the garage, and the kitchen. The sheet includes practical and thoughtful points, including a few having to do with cigarette damage.

4. “Smells Don’t Sell” is intended for those listings that specifically face odor issues, whether the source is smoking, pets, cooking, musty odors. It offers tips on addressing the problem and is an instructive guide whether the client attempts it as a do-it-yourself project or hires a professional.

We all know that being top of mind is the name of the game when that former client or new prospect decides now is the time to sell. We hope these tools will help with that.

You can find all of these free Realtor® resource tools online at http://www.smokefreehousinginfo.com/pages/Selling%20properties.html.

These resources brought to you by the Fair Housing Council; a nonprofit serving the state of Oregon and SW Washington. Learn more and / or sign up for our free, periodic newsletter at FHCO.org.

Questions about your rights and responsibilities under fair housing laws? Visit FHCO.org  or call 1-800-424-3247 Ext. 2.

Qs about this article? Want to schedule an in-office fair housing training program or speaker for corporate or association functions? Contact Jo Becker at jbecker@FHCO.org or 503/453-4016.

HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW THE FAIR HOUSING COUNCIL?

Guest Blogger:  Jo Becker, Education/Outreach Specialist, Fair Housing Council of Oregon

Who is the Fair Housing Council (FHCO)?

We are a private nonprofit organization. We promote equal access to housing by providing education, outreach, technical assistance, and access to enforcement related to federal, state, and local fair housing laws.

We are not a government agency, although we receive some of our funding from federal, state, and local jurisdictions. We are not a housing authority and do not administer Section 8 or other housing assistance programs. We are not a housing provider and do not have units available for rent or for sale; nor do we have shelter services or provide crisis housing.

What is the Fair Housing Council’s Service Area?

We serve the entire state of Oregon and Clark County, Washington.

What is the History of the FHCO?

The FHCO was founded in 1990 as the first, and only, organization dedicated solely to furthering and enforcing the Fair Housing Act’s protections across Oregon.

What Services Does the Fair Housing Council offer?

Through comprehensive community education and individual counseling, the Fair Housing Council works to eliminate housing discrimination across Oregon and SW Washington and to guarantee the rights of all people to freely chose housing in the area they desire to live and for which they are financially qualified. Services provided by the Fair Housing Council include access to fair housing enforcement, and education and outreach about federal, state, and local fair housing laws.

How can I contact the Fair Housing Council?

Anyone with a fair housing question may contact us at:

The Fair Housing Hotline
503/223-8197 Ext. 2
800/424-3247 Ext. 2 (outside Portland metro area), or
information@FHCO.org
http://www.fhco.org/

This is a toll-free call and there is no fee associated with the Hotline service, nor is there any income qualification for Hotline assistance. If a staff member is not immediately available to assist by phone, please leave a message and your call with be returned as soon as possible.

Does the Fair Housing Council offer assistance in languages other than English?

Yes, for any languages we can’t accommodate with bilingual staff, we utilize the services of a three-way translation service over the phone or other translation service that makes over 160 languages available to us. Historically, 4% of the calls to our Fair Housing Hotline have come from non-English speakers.

Does the Fair Housing Council offer assistance to those with limited vision or hearing abilities?

Yes, our Fair Housing Hotline staff can assist callers with a hearing impairment. In addition, upon request, we can provide literature and materials in Braille.

Does the Fair Housing Council offer further accommodations?

Yes. If you need assistance utilizing our services (the Hotline, our website, our literature, the classes we offer, etc.) based on a physical or mental disability, please let us know how we can be of help.

Who Governs the Fair Council?

The Fair Housing Council is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, which establishes and oversees all policies. The background of the Board is broad and diverse providing guidance and perspective from attorneys, leaders in the real estate industry and varied housing providers, business professionals, and individuals from the nonprofit sector. Get to know our Board at www.FHCO.org/bod.htm. You can also get to know our staff better at www.FHCO.org/staff.htm and read our mission at www.FHCO.org/mission.htm.

This article brought to you by the Fair Housing Council; a nonprofit serving the state of Oregon and SW Washington. Learn more and / or sign up for our free, periodic newsletter at http://www.fhco.org/.

Questions about your rights and responsibilities under fair housing laws?

Visit http://www.fhco.org/ or call 1-800-424-3247 Ext. 2.

Questions about this article? Want to schedule an in-office fair housing training program or speaker for corporate or association functions?

Contact: Jo Becker at jbecker@FHCO.org or 503/453-4016.

Liberty House Champions for Children Fundraising Luncheon 9/29/11

Guest Blogger:  Chris “Nelson” Laurance
——————
The 6th annual Liberty House Champions for Children Fundraising Luncheon will be held Thursday, September 29, 2011 from Noon – 1:00 pm at the Salem Conference Center.

Join other community members for lunch, learn about the important services provided to children in our community and ways you can help support Liberty House.

To reserve your seat please contact Brenda Kidder at 503-540-0288 or email to bkidder@libertyhousecenter.org.

There is no charge to attend the event, thanks to our wonderful sponsor Mountain West Investment Corporation.

We hope you can be a part of this special day!

Can You Help the Local Community D.A.R.E. Program?

Guest Blogger:  Amy Clark
—————————————————————————————–

I’m reaching out to you today to help our local community D.A.R.E. program.

The primary goal of D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance & Education) is to prevent the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs in the lives of our youth. This is a voluntary program supported by donations from individuals and businesses. Donations for the D.A.R.E. program are tax deductible under IRC section 170 (c) (1) – a donation letter can be provided for your tax write off purposes and donors are recognized in the community D.A.R.E. publications.

The program brings a D.A.R.E. officer and education materials into 5th grade classrooms once a week for 3 months. Students actively participate in class and take a stand against drugs and violence. This is such a critical age of influence and decision making for our youth. The old adage ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ is very true in this day and age when you look at what challenges our kids are facing.

The 2011 Fund Raising Drive needs a total of $10,068.00 for supplies that include workbooks, bumper stickers, Graduation t-shirts, Awards and Medallions.

I’d like to personally ask you to please sponsor this valuable program today by making a donation of ANY amount. Make your check payable to the “Salem Police D.A.R.E.” and mail to:

Officer Craig Seibel, D.A.R.E.
Salem Police Department
555 Liberty St. SE
Salem OR 97301
Thank you!

Amy Clark
Principal Broker, CRS
Licensed in the State of Oregon
Prudential Real Estate Professionals
http://www.myhomewithamyclark.com/
503-580-7190 Cell
503-371-3013 xt 1296 Office

Know Anyone with Needs?? "Day of Service" Will Help Our Community!!

A local charitable organization is planning a “Day of Service” for September 17, 2011, in the West Salem (first priority) and Salem areas.

They are seeking contact information at the earliest possible date (Name, Address, Phone Number) of individuals and families that would benefit from an effective 5 to 15 hours of “kindness service” on or about their home, such as yard clean up, painting, fence repair, or the like.

Each household would have anywhere from two to five individuals (or more, if needed) to address the required work in a two to four hour period, thus the 5 to 15 hours of “effective service”.

Have any clients / family / friends who could use this helping hand?

Submit your project suggestions to gary@inetrealtors.com. The “service” to be provided is totally free and without any strings or expectations attached.

They want to do something wonderful for our community, and I’m hoping they get lots of takers!

Wine Tasting Fundraiser for the Taisey Family in Albany

Friends, Associates, Clients and Customers
of
The Taisey Family
““““““““““““““
Join us,
The Employees of Fidelity National Title
for
A Wine Tasting Fundraiser
to
help the Taisey Family offset medical expenses
associated with Marcy’s treatment and recovery.
““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““`
This event will be held at
the refurbished J.C. Penney’s Building at
317 1st Avenue West in downtown Albany
Thursday, August 11th

4:00 – 7:00 PM
““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
Suggested contribution at the door is $12.00 or whatever
amount you care to give.
Receive two beverage tickets.
All proceeds go to the Taisey Family Fund.
Cash accepted, or make checks payable to the “Taisey Family Fund.”
RSVP by Wednesday, August 10th: 541-924-0767
““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““`
Can’t make it? Mail your check directly to
Wells Fargo, MAC P6223-011, Attn. Taisey Family Fund,
300 1st Avenue West
Albany, Oregon 97321
“““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
Neither the Family nor Fidelity National Title makes any representation
as to the tax deductibility of your contribution. Consult a Tax Advisor
““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““

Law & Rule Required Course – WAOR’s 3rd Quarter Seminar is on Wednesday

You are invited to register for Willamette Association of REALTORS® August 3rd Seminar – LARRC – the Oregon Real Estate Agency mandated course that must be taken as part of the 30-hours of continuing real estate education for all Oregon brokers, principal brokers and property managers.