April is Fair Housing Month, during which we will mark the 53rd anniversary of the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). The law being over a half-century old does not mean that its interpretation and application does not continue to evolve.
The FHA has been amended twice; once in 1974 and again in 1988. Later this year will come the 33rd anniversary of those 1988 amendments to the FHA that added provisions to ensure equal, or at least improved, access to housing for people with disabilities. Just as with other aspects of law, when it comes to the FHA’s disability-specific provisions, their interpretation and application are not static. Evidence of that fact is shown by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity’s (FHEO) issuance of updated guidance on assistance animals on January 28, 2020. That update came just 4 weeks after the introduction of California’s first fair housing regulations, which can be found in Title 2 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR), starting at section 12005. That January 2020 introduction of regulations was the first phase of developing comprehensive regulations that will eventually address most aspects of fair housing law. Among the topics addressed in the first phase is that of assistance animals.