REALTOR® Bill on Service and Assistance Animals Passes House Committee
January 30, 2018
HB 198, sponsored by Representative Matt Fridy (R-Montevallo), passed the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee unanimously last week.
Representative Fridy explained that HB 198 does two things – 1) it sets out the process for a landlord to request documentation from tenants seeking a reasonable accommodation for an assistance animal, and 2) it deters people from misrepresenting a pet as a service or assistance animal by making these actors subject to a criminal penalty.
Representatives Allen Treadaway (R-Morris), Tommy Hanes (R-Scottsboro), Isaac Whorton (R-Valley), Will Ainsworth (R-Guntersville), Thomas Jackson (D-Thomasville), Mary Moore (D-Birmingham), Harry Shiver (R-Bay Minette), Dickie Drake (R-Leeds), Connie Rowe (R-Jasper) and Allen Farley (R-McCalla), were present and voted for the bill. Representative Jackson made the motion for a favorable report. Representative Hanes seconded the motion.
HB 198 now awaits passage by the full House of Representatives.
Background: REALTORS® are advancing an initiative to help combat the misrepresentation and undocumented presentation of pets as service and/or assistance animals. This issue has spread widely across the state with the ability to go online and access fraudulent service and companion animal documentation with no medical evaluation and/or verification. Service animals are highly trained, disciplined, and skilled working animals that assist people with disabilities with many important and critical tasks of day-to-day life. The aim of the REALTOR® bill is to deter fraudulent activity, while protecting those with a medically documented need of a service or assistance animal, and provide clear guidance for real estate professionals in working with consumers in this important area of real estate.
Misrepresentation of service and assistance animals is a national problem, with Delta Air Lines announcing new requirements for emotional support animals just last week. See the article here.