You run a no-pet community. Can the guest of a non-disabled tenant bring a a companion animal onto your property? Unfortunately, the law is not clear on this issue. Under fair housing laws, only disabled residents and prospects are entitled to make requests for reasonable accommodations. A guest is not a tenant, and therefore not entitled to a reasonable accommodation (an exception) to your no-pet policy. Landlords who do not want to allow the tenant’s guest to bring a companion animal onto the property frequently cite this rule. Yes, this is a correct statement of the law. However, it is a shortsighted analysis. The fair housing act also provides that it is illegal to discriminate in connection with the leasing of a property because of the disability of any person associated with the tenant.
Thus, even though the guest is not entitled to a reasonable accommodation, the tenant would argue that the landlord is discriminating against the tenant (not allowing him to have certain types of guests) because of the disability of his guest. Again, no court has decided this issue, or at least published an opinion on this issue. However, if a landlord denied a tenant the right to have a guest because of the race or national origin of the guest, the landlord would be without dispute discriminating under fair housing laws. Thus, the better reasoned position is that you should allow tenants with disabled guests to bring their companion animals onto your community even if you are a no pet community. If the guest’s disability is not obvious or the need for the companion animal is not obvious, similar to a reasonable accommodation request, you can ask for appropriate documentation regarding the disability of the guest and the guest’s need for the companion animal.