Reasonable Accommodations (SAHMA MS State Meeting)

Posted On: April 19, 2019

If someone is disabled and needs something “special” related to that disability, the owner/manager of that property is subject to providing that accommodation.

This is what was discussed on Wednesday, April 17, at the SAHMA Mississippi State Meeting in Jackson. The ever-relevant discussion of “Reasonable Accommodations Case Studies” was led by Larry Sisson of TESCO Properties.

He reminded everyone of the proper procedures to be taken when met with a reasonable accommodation request. First, recognize the request, then get the request in writing, don’t fail to offer reasonable accommodations in communications, and train your staff to know when to use a verification form.

One of the main instances that were discussed in the session was about Assistance animals.

A senior man sitting on a sofa indoors with a pet dog at home.

Some of the distinctions Larry made in regards to evaluating whether or not a tenant needs their assistance animal was to, first and foremost, look at the relationship between the person’s disability and the need for the animal. And another thing that could be taken into account is how long the tenant has had the animal. This isn’t an absolute rule of thumb to abide by. But the more longevity of ownership of the animal in most cases can help clarify the need for the animal. An example he gave was an elderly tenant who has had two dogs for over 10 years. In this case, Larry perceived that a removal of those dogs could have a similar emotional impact of “losing one’s children” on the tenant. So the need for those assistance animals is more clearly seen.

Another reminder that Larry gave was that “Fair Housing laws do not give anyone absolute rights.” For example, if an assistance animal is assessed as dangerous to others on the property (i.e. instances of biting or attacking others), the animal can be removed. Also, in some places/counties, there are still dangerous breed laws that have to be abided to by the properties in those areas.


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