Fraud-related bill moves ahead

Fraud-related bill moves ahead

Minnesota lawmakers are looking to crack down on renters who purchase fraudulent documents for service or emotional support animals in order to evade landlords’ pet restrictions and fees. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee has unanimously passed Senate File 2693, which requires tenants to provide medical documentation proving their need for a service or emotional support animal to landlords. The bill’s primary author Sen. Dan Hall (R-Burnsville), said the bill is an attempt to crack down on tenants who purchase faux documentation to skirt landlords’ pet rules, fees or deposits. 

Leanna Stefaniak of St. Paul-based apartment company At Home Apartments, told legislators that she and a colleague are responsible for sorting through renters’ service animal requests. She estimated that one in four of the documents they receive are produced by “boutique” online companies producing fraudulent certificates. 

From her perspective, such fake documents are an “affront” to those tenants who legitimately do need the help of a service animal. If passed, a tenant found to provide false documents to their landlord under SF 2693 would be liable to a fine up to $1,000 and eviction. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, landlords under the bill must not require documentations from tenants whose disabilities are “readily apparent or already known.” 

SF 2693 has the support of the Minnesota Disability Law Center and Minnesota Housing Authority. Stefaniak said 15 other states have similar laws on the books. 

(Source: Rochester Post-Bulletin)