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Equal Rights Division Newsletter - June 10, 2021

Concerned that your service or emotional support animal may make it difficult for you to find a place to live? You shouldn't be.

The Wisconsin Open Housing Act (WOHA) protects individuals with service or emotional support animals from discrimination in housing.

The Question

While searching for rentals, you notice a "For Rent" sign outside of a well-maintained 10-unit building. You call the number on the sign, to inquire about the rental, and find out that there is a one-bedroom unit available that is well within your budget. You schedule a time to see the unit and make arrangements to fill out the rental application online. But before your scheduled walk-thru, the property manager calls to say that your application has been denied and your walk-thru is canceled. When you ask why your application was turned down, the manager tells you that there is a strict no-pets policy and refers to where you indicated on your application that you have an emotional support cat.

Should you contact the ERD?


The Answer

Even if the property has a "no pets" rule, the property manager may be obligated to make reasonable accommodations to rules, policies, and practices for someone with a disability. The property manager is permitted to ask you for reliable documentation from your doctor stating that you have a disability-related need for the animal. But it is discrimination for the property manager to deny your application based simply on the presence of an emotional support animal. If say, your emotion support animal was a badger and was likely to cause substantial damage to the property or pose a direct threat to the safety of others, then the property manager may be permitted to deny your request for accommodation.

Know Your Rights

Remember, the Wisconsin Open Housing Act (WOHA) protects individuals with service or emotional support animals from discrimination in housing. For more information on discrimination in housing, contact the Equal Rights Division, or get answers to common questions by viewing our 60-Second Questions.

Equal Rights Officers are available to answer your wage and hour and employment and housing discrimination questions. We take calls Monday through Friday between the hours of 7:45 AM and 4:30 PM. Madison: (608) 266-6860; Milwaukee: (414) 227-4384.

Subscribe to the Know Your Rights Newsletter today by entering your email address below and receive monthly easy reads designed to keep you informed and protected.