THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

2200

THIRTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2020

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

relating to fair housing reasonable accommodations.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the term "assistance animal", which is used under the federal and state fair housing laws, includes a wider category of animals that provide support to a person with a disability, including emotional support animals and service animals. The federal Fair Housing Act and federal Rehabilitation Act protect the rights of people with disabilities to keep assistance animals, even when a residential building or landlord policy explicitly restricts pets. When a person with a disability requests the use of an assistance animal as a reasonable housing accommodation, the housing provider may ask for information, including verification from a treating health care professional, that the person has a disability and the requested assistance animal is needed to alleviate one or more symptoms of the person's disability.

Concerns have been raised, however, that verification in support of the use of an assistance animal may be provided by a health care provider who may not have treated or had any direct examination of the individual making the request. As a result, this can lead to some tenants or residents easily abusing the status of their pet as an "assistance animal", and creating an undue burden on other tenants or residents that may have purposefully sought out "no pet" buildings due to allergies or other concerns.

Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to:

(1) Require licensed health care providers to make a written finding regarding whether a patient or client has a disability and whether the need for an assistance animal is related to the disability, so long as:

(A) The licensee has met with the patient or client in person or via telehealth;

(B) The licensee is sufficiently familiar with the patient or client and the disability; and

(C) The licensee is legally and professionally qualified to make the finding; and

(2) Require the civil rights commission, in consultation with the department of the attorney general, to adopt rules and prescribe forms regarding the making of a written finding by licensees in conformance with this Act and in accordance with federal law.

SECTION 2. Chapter 515, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"515-   Housing; licensee written finding of disability and need for an assistance or service animal related to disability; form requirements. (a) A licensee under chapter 453, 453D, 457, 459, 465, or 467E whose assistance is requested by a patient or client seeking a finding that an assistance animal or service animal is a reasonable accommodation in housing shall make a written finding attesting that the patient or client has a disability and, if a disability is found, a separate written finding attesting that the need for an assistance animal or service animal is related to the disability.

(b) A licensee under chapter 453, 453D, 457, 459, 465, or 467E shall not make a finding under subsection (a) unless all of the following circumstances are present:

(1) The licensee has met with the patient or client in person or via telehealth;

(2) The licensee is personally and sufficiently familiar with the patient or client and the disability; and

(3) The licensee is legally and professionally qualified to make the finding.

(c) The commission, in consultation with the department of the attorney general, shall adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91 regarding the making of a written attested finding by licensees under this section. The rules shall include a form for licensees to document the licensees' written findings. The form shall recite this section's requirements and comply with the federal Fair Housing Act (42 United States Code 3601, et seq.), as amended, and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 United States Code section 791), as amended. The form shall contain only two questions regarding the qualifications of the patient or client, which shall be:

(1) Whether a person has a disability; and

(2) Whether the need for an assistance or service animal is related to the disability.

The form shall indicate that the response shall be limited to "yes" or "no". The form shall not allow for additional detail.

(d) A private entity or landlord may deny a request for an exception to a pet policy if a person who does not have a readily apparent disability, or a disability known to the private entity or landlord, fails to provide documentation indicating that the person has a disability and the person has a disability-related need for an assistance animal or service animal.

(e) This section does not limit the means by which a person with a disability may demonstrate, pursuant to state or federal law, that the person has a disability or that the person has a disability-related need for an assistance animal or service animal.

(f) For purposes of this section:

"Assistance animal" means an animal that qualifies as a reasonable accommodation under the federal Fair Housing Act (42 United States Code 3601, et seq.), as amended, and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 United States Code section 791), as amended.

"Private entity" means any association of homeowners, community association, condominium association, cooperative, or any other non-governmental entity with covenants, bylaws, and administrative provisions with which the homeowner's compliance is required.

"Service animal" shall have the same meaning as that term is defined in section 347-2.5."

SECTION 3. If any provision of this Act, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance, is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of the Act that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this Act are severable.

SECTION 4. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

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Report Title:

Fair Housing; Assistance Animals; Service Animals; Reasonable Accommodations; Written Findings; Telehealth; Health Care Providers; Civil Rights Commission; Department of the Attorney General

 

Description:

Requires licensed health care providers to make written findings whether a patient or client has a disability and whether the need for an assistance animal or service animal is related to the disability so long as certain circumstances are present. Requires the civil rights commission in consultation with the department of the attorney general to adopt rules and prescribe forms.

 

 

 

The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.