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AB-1569 Disability rights: reasonable accommodations: animals.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 03/23/2017 09:00 PM
AB1569:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  March 23, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 1569


Introduced by Assembly Member Caballero

February 17, 2017


An act to amend Section 54.1 of the Civil Code, relating to disability rights.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1569, as amended, Caballero. Disability rights: reasonable accommodations: animals.
The Unruh Civil Rights Act generally prohibits discrimination on the basis of various personal characteristics, including disability. Existing law entitles individuals with disabilities to full and equal access to all housing accommodations offered for rent, lease, or compensation in this state, as provided, and prohibits a person renting, leasing, or otherwise providing real property for compensation from refusing to make reasonable accommodations for an individual with a disability. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act, among other things establishes the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and authorizes it to receive, investigate, conciliate, mediate, and prosecute complaints alleging various civil rights violations, including violations of these provisions regarding individuals with disabilities.
This bill, if a prospective or current tenant requests a disability-related reasonable accommodation to keep an animal on the real property and the disability is not readily apparent or the disability-related need for an animal is not apparent, would authorize a person renting, leasing, or otherwise providing real property for compensation to request that a third party provide verification of the disability and disability-related need for the animal from the prospective or current tenant. prospective or current tenant provide reliable verification of the disability and the disability-related need for the animal. The bill would require that the third party, among other things, have specific knowledge of the prospective or current tenant’s medical condition based on an individualized examination. The bill would specify that certain types of documentation would not be in and of themselves sufficient or reliable third-party verification and would authorize the person renting, leasing, or otherwise providing real property for compensation to request additional third-party verification from a reliable source if the prospective or current tenant only presents any of those types of documentation. The bill would exclude from these provisions guide dogs and service animals, as those terms are defined in specified statutes. The bill would make various findings and declarations.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares the following:
(a) It is beneficial for both landlords and prospective or current tenants to have greater guidance as to what is sufficient verification of a disability or disability-related need for an animal in those situations in which a landlord may ask for verification of a disability. This clarity will help both the landlord and the prospective or current tenant to constructively engage in the interactive process to determine if the prospective or current tenant’s animal may be reasonably accommodated without undue hardship to the owner, including balancing the rights of existing tenants with disabilities.
(b) Under existing law and pursuant to the settlement between the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the Irvine Company, LLC., there are circumstances in which a landlord may request that a prospective or current tenant requesting a reasonable accommodation to keep an animal provide reliable verification of his or her disability and the disability-related need for requesting the animal.
(c) There are many persons, including internet vendors, who will provide verifications or certifications that a prospective or current tenant is disabled or has a disability-related need for an animal without ever meeting the person requesting verification or certification or conducting any type of examination. These providers, sometimes referred to as “letter mills” and whose primary business is providing verifications and certifications for profit, are both offline and online and are located throughout the United States and the world.
(d) These “letter mills” directly harm the disabled. Many prospective or current tenants will pay for online certifications and letters believing that to be an easy way to provide documentation of their disability and disability-related need for an animal. This documentation, however, is typically insufficient, resulting in the prospective or current tenant still having to obtain proper documentation.

SEC. 2.

 Section 54.1 of the Civil Code is amended to read:

54.1.
 (a) (1) Individuals with disabilities shall be entitled to full and equal access, as other members of the general public, to accommodations, advantages, facilities, medical facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and physicians’ offices, and privileges of all common carriers, airplanes, motor vehicles, railroad trains, motorbuses, streetcars, boats, or any other public conveyances or modes of transportation (whether private, public, franchised, licensed, contracted, or otherwise provided), telephone facilities, adoption agencies, private schools, hotels, lodging places, places of public accommodation, amusement, or resort, and other places to which the general public is invited, subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law, or state or federal regulation, and applicable alike to all persons.
(2) As used in this section, “telephone facilities” means tariff items and other equipment and services that have been approved by the Public Utilities Commission to be used by individuals with disabilities in a manner feasible and compatible with the existing telephone network provided by the telephone companies.
(3) “Full and equal access,” for purposes of this section in its application to transportation, means access that meets the standards of Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336) and federal regulations adopted pursuant thereto, except that, if the laws of this state prescribe higher standards, it shall mean access that meets those higher standards.
(b) (1) Individuals with disabilities shall be entitled to full and equal access, as other members of the general public, to all housing accommodations offered for rent, lease, or compensation in this state, subject to the conditions and limitations established by law, or state or federal regulation, and applicable alike to all persons.
(2) “Housing accommodations” means any real property, or portion of real property, that is used or occupied, or is intended, arranged, or designed to be used or occupied, as the home, residence, or sleeping place of one or more human beings, but shall not include any accommodations included within subdivision (a) or any single-family residence the occupants of which rent, lease, or furnish for compensation not more than one room in the residence.
(3) (A) A person renting, leasing, or otherwise providing real property for compensation shall not refuse to permit an individual with a disability, at that person’s expense, to make reasonable modifications of the existing rented premises if the modifications are necessary to afford the person full enjoyment of the premises. However, any modifications under this paragraph may be conditioned on the disabled tenant entering into an agreement to restore the interior of the premises to the condition existing before the modifications. No additional security may be required on account of an election to make modifications to the rented premises under this paragraph, but the lessor and tenant may negotiate, as part of the agreement to restore the premises, a provision requiring the disabled tenant to pay an amount into an escrow account, not to exceed a reasonable estimate of the cost of restoring the premises.
(B) A person renting, leasing, or otherwise providing real property for compensation shall not refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when those accommodations may be necessary to afford individuals with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy the premises.
(C) (i) A person renting, leasing, or otherwise providing real property for compensation may, if a prospective or current tenant requests a disability-related reasonable accommodation to keep an animal on the real property and the disability is not readily apparent or the disability-related need for an animal is not apparent, request that a third party provide verification of the disability and disability-related need for the animal from the prospective or current tenant. prospective or current tenant provide both (I) reliable third-party verification or other reliable verification of the disability and (II) reliable third-party verification of the disability-related need for the animal. The third party verifying the disability and the disability-related need for the animal shall be located in the United States and have specific knowledge of the prospective or current tenant’s medical condition based on an individualized examination. That examination shall include an in-person meeting with the prospective or current tenant. The third party shall not be operating primarily as a business to provide certifications for persons requesting verification of animals requested as reasonable accommodations. The third-party verification shall include the third party’s name, address, and telephone number or email address.
(ii) The following types of documentation shall not be in and of themselves sufficient or reliable third-party verification that a prospective or current tenant requires an animal as a reasonable accommodation, and the person renting, leasing, or otherwise providing real property for compensation may request additional third-party verification from a reliable source if the prospective or current tenant only presents any of those types of documentation:
(I) An identification card or certificate for a registered service animal. card, registration, or certificate for an animal presented without additional third-party verification from a reliable source.

(II)An emotional support animal prescription letter.

(III)

(II) Any certificate, registration, emotional support animal letter, letter of prescription, doctor’s or any other kind of note or letter obtained from an online source.

(IV)

(III) Documentation that does not indicate that the provider of the documentation ever met the prospective or current tenant or performed an individualized examination.
(iii) This subparagraph shall not apply to a “guide dog,” “signal dog,” or “service dog,” as defined in paragraph (6), or a “service animal,” as defined in Section 113903 of the Health and Safety Code.
(4) This subdivision does not require a person renting, leasing, or providing for compensation real property to modify his or her property in any way or provide a higher degree of care for an individual with a disability than for an individual who is not disabled.
(5) Except as provided in paragraph (6), this part does not require a person renting, leasing, or providing for compensation real property, if that person refuses to accept tenants who have dogs, to accept as a tenant an individual with a disability who has a dog.
(6) (A) It shall be deemed a denial of equal access to housing accommodations within the meaning of this subdivision for a person, firm, or corporation to refuse to lease or rent housing accommodations to an individual who is blind or visually impaired on the basis that the individual uses the services of a guide dog, an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing on the basis that the individual uses the services of a signal dog, or to an individual with any other disability on the basis that the individual uses the services of a service dog, or to refuse to permit such an individual who is blind or visually impaired to keep a guide dog, an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing to keep a signal dog, or an individual with any other disability to keep a service dog on the premises.
(B) Except in the normal performance of duty as a mobility or signal aid, this paragraph does not prevent the owner of a housing accommodation from establishing terms in a lease or rental agreement that reasonably regulate the presence of guide dogs, signal dogs, or service dogs on the premises of a housing accommodation, nor does this paragraph relieve a tenant from any liability otherwise imposed by law for real and personal property damages caused by such a dog when proof of the damage exists.
(C) (i) As used in this subdivision, “guide dog” means a guide dog that was trained by a person licensed under Chapter 9.5 (commencing with Section 7200) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code or as defined in the regulations implementing Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336).
(ii) As used in this subdivision, “signal dog” means a dog trained to alert an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing to intruders or sounds.
(iii) As used in this subdivision, “service dog” means a dog individually trained to the requirements of the individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, minimal protection work, rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.
(7) It shall be deemed a denial of equal access to housing accommodations within the meaning of this subdivision for a person, firm, or corporation to refuse to lease or rent housing accommodations to an individual who is blind or visually impaired, an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing, or other individual with a disability on the basis that the individual with a disability is partially or wholly dependent upon the income of his or her spouse, if the spouse is a party to the lease or rental agreement. This subdivision does not prohibit a lessor or landlord from considering the aggregate financial status of an individual with a disability and his or her spouse.
(c) Visually impaired or blind persons and persons licensed to train guide dogs for individuals who are visually impaired or blind pursuant to Chapter 9.5 (commencing with Section 7200) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code or guide dogs as defined in the regulations implementing Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336), and persons who are deaf or hard of hearing and persons authorized to train signal dogs for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, and other individuals with a disability and persons authorized to train service dogs for individuals with a disability, may take dogs, for the purpose of training them as guide dogs, signal dogs, or service dogs in any of the places specified in subdivisions (a) and (b). These persons shall ensure that the dog is on a leash and tagged as a guide dog, signal dog, or service dog by identification tag issued by the county clerk, animal control department, or other agency, as authorized by Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 30850) of Division 14 of the Food and Agricultural Code. In addition, the person shall be liable for any provable damage done to the premises or facilities by his or her dog.
(d) A violation of the right of an individual under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336) also constitutes a violation of this section, and this section does not limit the access of any person in violation of that act.
(e) This section does not preclude the requirement of the showing of a license plate or disabled placard when required by enforcement units enforcing disabled persons parking violations pursuant to Sections 22507.8 and 22511.8 of the Vehicle Code.