service animals in college housing

<p>The disabilities office on campus has recently granted me the permission to keep an ADA service dog in university housing. The catch: they want me to move into a studio apartment, which is both tiny and super expensive. </p>

<p>I am currently living in a 2-bedroom apartment with a roommate, who'd be okay with a dog in the apartment. I'd very much prefer to stay there. Does anyone happen to know if the university can force me to move in order to have a service animal?</p>

<p>Their justification is that if my roommate moves out before I do, they'd have to pre-screen a new roommate (to find someone who'd be okay living with a dog), which requires too much effort on their part.</p>

<p>I don’t have an answer for you but I’d think it wouldn’t be very hard for them to find someone who’d love to have a dog in the apartment - especially a well trained service dog.</p>

<p>My kids would have loved it.</p>

<p>Have you tried going up to the next level in that housing department or to the Dean?</p>

<p>Does the ADA recognize service dogs outside of blindness? I know in retail establishments they definitely do not. Assuming you aren’t blind, I don’t think its a covered disability. So to answer your question, yes, they can force you to move.</p>

<p>However, depending on your need, I’m sure they can certainly work with you especially since its a mature, house trained pet. I’ve always said they should start training only hypo allergenic dogs to be service dogs as the pet dander and shedding is extreme in the most common breeds.</p>

<p>I have had two students who had a service dog in the dorms with no problem.</p>


Yes, they do. For example, a person with epilespy can get a service dog to protect them while they are having seisures; a person with OCD can get a service dog to interrupt repetitive behaviors; and a person with limited mobility can get a service dog to fetch items and open doors for them.</p>


I’ve already talked to the head of the housing department, to no avail. I might try the Dean’s Office next, but I’m starting to get discouraged and I am wondering if it’s worth the trouble at this point.</p>

<p>Here we go:</p>

<p>[Revised</a> ADA Requirements: Service Animals](<a href=“]Revised”>Redirecting…)</p>



<p>So if you have a need specified above, they absolutely must accommodate you and I would raise holy hell if they tried to make you pay more for a single.</p>

<p>Sometime, hope you’ll share more, Barium. They need to accommodate but often have the right to set guidelines. Does the school have a “service dog policy?” Unless there is a firm and obvious policy, I’d run this up the ladder, too. Good luck.</p>

<p>Google university housing service dog.</p>

<p>From the link Rexximus posted: “Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a school classroom or at a homeless shelter, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.”</p>

<p>It seems to me that the situation with a dorm is somewhat comparable to this. They should not assign a dog-allergic roommate to your room if you have a service dog. Seems quite obvious. </p>

<p>The ADA requires “reasonable accommodations” for people with disabilities. A very simple, one question, roommate screening seems quite reasonable. Especially considering they might not even have to do that–it would only even come up if the current roommate moved out.</p>

<p>I’d suggest that raising “holy hell” isn’t necessarily the best response. Get a copy of the federal law, print it out, and bring it with you back to the disabilities office. Then explain, as calmly as you can, that they are required by law to make “reasonable accomodation” . . . and demanding that you move into an expensive studio apartment is not reasonable.</p>

<p>Alternatively, ask an attorney to write a letter on your behalf.</p>

<p>I am guessing that their demand is unreasonable. Look at it this way, if you want to take the dog with you into a restaurant, the restaurant is required by law to accommodate you . . . even if it makes other patrons uncomfortable. I would think your right to housing would be analogous.</p>

<p>They might arguably be able to demand that you move into a studio apartment . . . but the cost would have to be the same as what you are paying now. And I would certainly argue that such a demand would still be unreasonable so long as you have a roommate who doesn’t object to living with the two of you.</p>

<p>You’ve spoken with Disability Services?<br>
The issue can be how the U sees “reasonable accommodation(s.)” </p>

<p>I see this related to the Fair Housing Act:</p>

<p>“Under the FHAct and Section 504 individuals with a disability may be entitled to keep assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation in housing facilities that otherwise impose restrictions or prohibitions on animals. In order to qualify for such an accommodation, the assistance animal must be necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling or to participate in the housing service or program. Further, there must be a relationship, or nexus, between the individual’s disability and the assistance animal provides. If these requirements are met, a housing facility, program or service must permit the assistance animal as an accommodation, unless it can demonstrate that allowing the assistance animal would fundamentally alter the nature of the housing program or service.”</p>



<p>Alternatively, ask an attorney to write a letter on your behalf.

<p>I would consider threatening legal action to be holy hell.</p>

<p>"(can) the university … force me to move in order to have a service animal?"</p>

<p>Wow. I’d think the university would be THRILLED for the opportunity to provide this accommodation. (It’s not like you’re asking permission to bring a rabid badger “to keep people away from my stash while I’m in class.”) So count me among those who suggest taking this matter up to a higher level. And by all means take your SA when you do.</p>

<p>There are two sides to any issue. Your rights and the rights of others. You need to approach this considering others as well as yourself. Perhaps you and your roommate could ask to be able to share the apartment together, it presumably being unlikely the roommate will need to break the contract. Alternatively you could ask for the same costs for the studio if they feel they can’t accommodate you in a double. You could state advantages of having a roommate (versus living alone) if it is applicable to your disability. Educating and persuading are far more likely to get you what you want than demanding is. Get your disabilities office involved.</p>

<p>The university has more issues to consider than one person and one service dog. The are offering what is probably going to be considered a reasonable accommodation. The university is making a housing offer. It’s not what the OP wants. It might seem silly or arbitrary when looked at from the perspective of one student with one service animal, but it may not be when considering the whole university housing system. It is not necessarily unreasonable for the university to designate certain residences as appropriate for this kind of accommodation. Perhaps these buildings have individual heating/cooling systems, which prevent other residents from being exposed to the animal dander. Perhaps these buildings have adjacent green space for the dog (and maintenance for cleaning up after the dogs). I really don’t know what a school’s reasoning would be, but mostly services are not denied just because the housing office wants to be a jerk. </p>

<p>Should you pursue this? Yes. You need better answers, and if the school is in the early stages of developing a service animal policy, you may be able to sway them. Want an attorney involved? Go ahead. Chances are your school has run its policy by its attorneys already, but there may be some room for negotiation.</p>



<p>I didn’t say to threaten legal action. I said to ask an attorney to write a letter explaining the OP’s legal position. Calm, professional, and sets forth the applicable law.</p>

<p>Also, a business owner can certainly ask that a person with a service animal use separate accommodations (a private dining room, for example) so as not to disturb other patrons - but they can’t charge extra for it!</p>

<p>People with type 1 diabetes also often have service dogs. Just to add to the list.</p>

<p>The university should not charge you more for the single.</p>

<p>I also think they should allow you to stay in the two bedroom.</p>

<p>My advice is to sit down with a disabilities lawyer for an hour. Chances are you won’t have to pay any more than $150 or so and you won’t need the lawyer to actually go with you. Just mention cheerfully that this is what your lawyer said, and offer whatever materials your lawyer suggests.</p>

<p>504 regulations require that they meet your needs in integrated settings. If the school receives Federal funds they are bound by 504 regulations. I would argue that the single is not an integrated setting.</p>

<p>But one U explained it this way:
*Service dogs/animals regulations are separate from the policies governed for reasonable accommodation under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. In accordance the ADA amendment of March 15, 2011 and the Fair Housing act and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 the definitions of service dog/animals are as follows. This policy is written in order to create a welcoming community for all members.</p>

<p>Definitions of Service Animal allowed in Academic and Administrative Buildings

<p>Then it was followed by the prior quote about the fair Housing Act. I don’t know if that wording is common or particular. OP needs to see how the Disabilities Office explains it- or how they are willing to advocate. Good luck.</p>

<p>One source of the problem may be that disabilities offices have certain rooms set aside for the students who are registered with them. That means, for instance, that even those without wheelchairs will end up on the first floor, near the door. Maybe signing some waiver regarding which room is assigned would help-? You should be able to have the service animal even if you have not requested accessible housing.</p>


<p>Are all students with service animals specifically required to have singles, and to pay rent at the higher single rate? Ask about that. It may be possible to get the single for the rate that you are currently paying if the university requires that you move to a single.</p>

<p>Wishing you all the best!</p>