A Judge May Side With Landlords For Once Regarding the SAFE Housing Act

A Judge May Side With Landlords For Once Regarding the SAFE Housing Act

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It seems for once landlords may get a legal win down in the books. Renter protections have been consistently pushing forward, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it has been making it harder for landlords to get the tenant screening they need. Most landlords don’t want a free for all when it comes to their properties, and would prefer to be responsible regarding who can stay: someone safe with limited financial risk.

The SAFE Housing Act

It seems for once landlords may get a legal win down in the books. Renter protections have been consistently pushing forward, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it has been making it harder for landlords to get the tenant screening they need. Most landlords don’t want a free for all when it comes to their properties, and would prefer to be responsible regarding who can stay: someone safe with limited financial risk.

The SAFE Housing Act

Renter protections were again moving forward in St. Paul, Minnesota. Like the Big Apple before it, the city was going to prohibit the use of eviction records, but that’s not all. The “S.A.F.E. Housing Act,” or the Stable, Accessible, Fair, and Equitable Housing Act would limit a property managers ability to “consider evictions, credit histories and criminal histories when screening applicants for housing.” It was scheduled to be enforced on March 1st, 2021.

Renter protections were again moving forward in St. Paul, Minnesota. Like the Big Apple before it, the city was going to prohibit the use of eviction records, but that’s not all. The “S.A.F.E. Housing Act,” or the Stable, Accessible, Fair, and Equitable Housing Act would limit a property managers ability to “consider evictions, credit histories and criminal histories when screening applicants for housing.” It was scheduled to be enforced on March 1st, 2021.

However, local landlords began to band together, and two weeks prior to the enforcement, they sued the city. It’s easy to imagine why, considering how it would encroach on their ability to do their job. They cited two major ways that the SAFE Housing Act would hurt them and how it would illegally affect their properties. U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson granted the injunction and expressed his belief – to the great if limited relief of landlords through the city – that the landlords would win.

Landlords are citing two major amendment that the act would be breaking and infringing on their rights.

The Fifth Amendment

However, local landlords began to band together, and two weeks prior to the enforcement, they sued the city. It’s easy to imagine why, considering how it would encroach on their ability to do their job. They cited two major ways that the SAFE Housing Act would hurt them and how it would illegally affect their properties. U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson granted the injunction and expressed his belief – to the great if limited relief of landlords through the city – that the landlords would win.

Landlords are citing two major amendment that the act would be breaking and infringing on their rights.

The Fifth Amendment

The Fifth Amendment is more than protecting yourself by “Pleading the Fifth” and allowing you to keep your darker secrets to yourself. It’s also a prime defense in this case. The landlords’ suit claims that by forcing landlords to forego their tenant screening practices, it would basically be the government taking their property for its own use. The Fifth Amendment states, ““Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” As landlords are arguing that the law would be using private landlords as a prop to solve the city’s housing problems, it is using them ‘for public use.’ Or, as Judge Magnuson said, it “singles out private landlords to ‘address a perceived, though vaguely identified, societal problem’ related to housing needs. The Court agrees.”

The Fifth Amendment is more than protecting yourself by “Pleading the Fifth” and allowing you to keep your darker secrets to yourself. It’s also a prime defense in this case. The landlords’ suit claims that by forcing landlords to forego their tenant screening practices, it would basically be the government taking their property for its own use. The Fifth Amendment states, ““Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” As landlords are arguing that the law would be using private landlords as a prop to solve the city’s housing problems, it is using them ‘for public use.’ Or, as Judge Magnuson said, it “singles out private landlords to ‘address a perceived, though vaguely identified, societal problem’ related to housing needs. The Court agrees.”

The Fourteenth Amendment

Landlords are also claiming the SAFE Housing Act would infringe on their right to exclude appropriate people without due process as set by the 14th amendment. Judge Magnuson explained that as the Act doesn’t say that criminal or credit histories are stopping people from getting properties they “otherwise could have afforded” then it infringes on the right to exclude.

The Fourteenth Amendment

Landlords are also claiming the SAFE Housing Act would infringe on their right to exclude appropriate people without due process as set by the 14th amendment. Judge Magnuson explained that as the Act doesn’t say that criminal or credit histories are stopping people from getting properties they “otherwise could have afforded” then it infringes on the right to exclude.

The 14th Amendment states, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

The privilege to choose who enters your property is considered a basic right, or as Magnuson wrote, “fundamental.”

The 14th Amendment states, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

The privilege to choose who enters your property is considered a basic right, or as Magnuson wrote, “fundamental.”

Luckily it isn’t just the judge who has these views, as the Minnesota Multi Housing Association agrees. Acts like these don’t “solve” the housing crisis but instead discourage others from becoming landlords themselves, prevent further investment, or inspire current landlords to quit as they can’t protect their investments, which opposes what they need: more housing. While St. Paul City Attorney Lyndsey Olson found the ruling “disappointing” the city stated they would continue to try and find a way to stop the ongoing housing crisis. Meanwhile, we’ll be on the lookout for any potential legal threats to your right to safe tenant screening.

Luckily it isn’t just the judge who has these views, as the Minnesota Multi Housing Association agrees. Acts like these don’t “solve” the housing crisis but instead discourage others from becoming landlords themselves, prevent further investment, or inspire current landlords to quit as they can’t protect their investments, which opposes what they need: more housing. While St. Paul City Attorney Lyndsey Olson found the ruling “disappointing” the city stated they would continue to try and find a way to stop the ongoing housing crisis. Meanwhile, we’ll be on the lookout for any potential legal threats to your right to safe tenant screening.

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In enters WallyGator: a five-and-a-half foot, 70-pound TikTok famous alligator with over 72,600 followers on the platform owned by Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native Joie Henney. While it is legal to own alligators in Philadelphia, that isn’t the case in many other states — nor is it likely that the majority of pet gators, if any, qualify as emotional support animals. Or is it?

Since Wally’s uptick in popularity on the internet back in August, “alligators” as a related topic to the Google search query “emotional support animal” has seen a 300% increase in search frequency, most likely for the purposes of curious internet users seeing and reading about WallyGator for themselves. However, with the increase in popularity of keeping various species of reptiles as house pets and the common need for emotional support animals, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that people with legitimate mental health conditions, unique cases of PTSD, or related conditions could be looking into obtaining a support gator of their own.

As we’ve previously covered, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has provided guidance on how the Fair Housing Act (FHA) interfaces with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) regarding emotional support animals. HUD classifies assistance animals into two different categories in order to distinguish their roles from one another: service animals (primarily dogs), and other trained animals that do work, perform tasks, and/or provide therapeutic emotional support for individuals with disabilities. Per HUD’s guidelines, because Wally is not a dog, he, therefore, cannot qualify as a service animal – so, how does HUD define Wally and his role, exactly?

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Because the ADA makes the same distinction that an emotional support animal would only be classified as such due to its mere presence providing comfort as opposed to employing any training to respond to a situation, HUD’s guidelines technically, but clearly grant Wally his status as a legitimate emotional support animal under federal law.

While Wally’s status is protected in the eyes of the law, HUD also states that a housing provider can refuse a reasonable accommodation request for a support or assistance animal if said animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals or would result in substantial physical damage to the property of other which cannot be reduced or eliminated. However, before denying such a request due to a lack of information, a housing provider is encouraged to engage in a “good-faith” conversation with the owner of the support animal to gather information about the animal and mitigate any potential misunderstandings regarding its purpose.

Luckily for most property owners, WallyGator is very much an anomaly, and most folks aren’t scrambling to obtain an emotional support gator of their very own, anyway. Henney himself calls Wally a “very special gator” (he’s trained Wally to understand commands and to keep his mouth closed around other people) and actively discourages others to adopt a pet alligator if they’re not actively predisposed to working with alligators, stating “if you don’t know what you’re doing, you will get bit”.

Check out ApplyConnect’s HUD guidance breakdown: https://www.applyconnect.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Emotional-support-animals_-HUDs-Guidance-cliff-notes-AC-Version.pdf

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One Reply to “A Judge May Side With Landlords For Once Regarding the SAFE Housing Act”

  1. We only have one tenant that is using the COVID reason. This tenant receives assistance from the county. This tenant receives more than enough to pay the rent and all expenses. The tenant purchased a second car with the funds received. And here we are unable to do nothing about it. This is not right. We are out nearly $5000.00.

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One Reply to “A Judge May Side With Landlords For Once Regarding the SAFE Housing Act”

  1. We only have one tenant that is using the COVID reason. This tenant receives assistance from the county. This tenant receives more than enough to pay the rent and all expenses. The tenant purchased a second car with the funds received. And here we are unable to do nothing about it. This is not right. We are out nearly $5000.00.

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Tenant Screening

Can Your Tenant Legally Own An Alligator As An Emotional Support Animal?

When you think of an emotional support animal, what comes to mind? It would be fair to assume the first thought to enter one’s head would be a dog, if not some kind of bipedal mammal — and most likely not a reptilian carnivore with razor-sharp teeth.

In enters WallyGator: a five-and-a-half foot, 70-pound TikTok famous alligator with over 72,600 followers on the platform owned by Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native Joie Henney. While it is legal to own alligators in Philadelphia, that isn’t the case in many other states — nor is it likely that the majority of pet gators, if any, qualify as emotional support animals. Or is it?

Since Wally’s uptick in popularity on the internet back in August, “alligators” as a related topic to the Google search query “emotional support animal” has seen a 300% increase in search frequency, most likely for the purposes of curious internet users seeing and reading about WallyGator for themselves. However, with the increase in popularity of keeping various species of reptiles as house pets and the common need for emotional support animals, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that people with legitimate mental health conditions, unique cases of PTSD, or related conditions could be looking into obtaining a support gator of their own.

As we’ve previously covered, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has provided guidance on how the Fair Housing Act (FHA) interfaces with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) regarding emotional support animals. HUD classifies assistance animals into two different categories in order to distinguish their roles from one another: service animals (primarily dogs), and other trained animals that do work, perform tasks, and/or provide therapeutic emotional support for individuals with disabilities. Per HUD’s guidelines, because Wally is not a dog, he, therefore, cannot qualify as a service animal – so, how does HUD define Wally and his role, exactly?

HUD states if the service animal status is not readily apparent, to limit inquiries to two questions: “Is the animal required because of a disability?” and “What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?”, and if the answer to either question is no, then following denial of service animal status under federal, HUD states that the animal can still qualify as a support animal or other assistance animal, depending on what needs to be accommodated.

In Wally’s case, Henney received approval to use him as a support animal after expressing to his doctor he did not want to be medicated for depression following the deaths of several family members and close friends in a short period of time, and more recently, his untimely cancer diagnosis. Even before rescuing and adopting Wally, Henney has worked with and rescued reptiles (particularly alligators) for over thirty years, and his vocation is one he is very passionate about – so it stands to reason his support animal of choice would be one he’s so accustomed to working with.

Because the ADA makes the same distinction that an emotional support animal would only be classified as such due to its mere presence providing comfort as opposed to employing any training to respond to a situation, HUD’s guidelines technically, but clearly grant Wally his status as a legitimate emotional support animal under federal law.

While Wally’s status is protected in the eyes of the law, HUD also states that a housing provider can refuse a reasonable accommodation request for a support or assistance animal if said animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals or would result in substantial physical damage to the property of other which cannot be reduced or eliminated. However, before denying such a request due to a lack of information, a housing provider is encouraged to engage in a “good-faith” conversation with the owner of the support animal to gather information about the animal and mitigate any potential misunderstandings regarding its purpose.

Luckily for most property owners, WallyGator is very much an anomaly, and most folks aren’t scrambling to obtain an emotional support gator of their very own, anyway. Henney himself calls Wally a “very special gator” (he’s trained Wally to understand commands and to keep his mouth closed around other people) and actively discourages others to adopt a pet alligator if they’re not actively predisposed to working with alligators, stating “if you don’t know what you’re doing, you will get bit”.

Check out ApplyConnect’s HUD guidance breakdown: https://www.applyconnect.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Emotional-support-animals_-HUDs-Guidance-cliff-notes-AC-Version.pdf

Read More »

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Get Started with ApplyConnect!

The nation’s most trusted tenant screening for real estate agents, landlords, and property managers. No cost background checks available 24/7.

©2018 ApplyConnect. All rights reserved

ApplyConnect marks used herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of applyconnect.com. Other product and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.