20 years Representing Landlords in Portland, Oregon
Call Today 503.343.4570

Attorney Timothy Murphy is Interviewed by the Portland Tribune

A recent February article was published by the Portland Tribune on the growing controversy of service animals in rental housing. Every year there are nearly 4,000 reported discrimination complaints from renters to the Fair Housing Council of Oregon. The majority of these complaints are based off of either perceived or illegal discrimination, but the two can be easily confused. Recently, the tight rental market has made landlords more strict about whom they rent their spaces to. The people who are charged more, or are told that they do not qualify, get upset and feel that they have been treated unfairly.

Nearly half of the discrimination cases that the Fair Housing Council investigates are reports from renters with disabilities who feel that their landlord was not legally accommodating to them. Some renters have illness and conditions such as epilepsy or PTSD and they have service animals who help them cope when they are experiencing the side effects. Legally, service animals do not have to be certified and the animals come in different shapes and sizes- some are dogs and others are frogs, horses or iguanas. Apartment renters are permitted to ask for proof that they do in face need a service animal, but they are not legally permitted to ask about the specific disability that they suffer from.

Executive director of the council, Pegge McGuire, decided to interview Landlord Attorney Timothy L. Murphy, in order to get an expert opinion on the issue. She asked him if it is legally acceptable for landlords to charge renters a higher deposit fee if they require a service animal. He responded with, "From a landlord's perspective, the service animal is just as likely to damage the apartment as a pet." When Attorney Murphy has a landlord client come to him asking about this issue however, he tells them that they can request a larger deposit if the animal is simply a pet, but not if it is a service animal. Unfortunately, not all landlords see the logic behind that reasoning.

Timothy Murphy also shed light on the area of senior housing discrimination. His stance on the issue may seen perplexing to some Apartment property owners, but it is the law. When a senior apartment applicant comes in asking about renting a space, many landlords or property owners will judge them based on their physical appearance, hygiene and ability to take care of themselves. If the applicant seems disheveled, forgetful or confused during their interview, then they are typically seen as incompetent of taking care of themselves and assumed to have onset dementia. Many clients come to Attorney Murphy saying that they want to turn away these senior applicants because it seems that they need a caretaker or more of an assisted living situation. That is when Murphy has to explain to them that they cannot legally make that judgment for themselves and you cannot turn them away because it seems that they cannot take care of themselves.

When you begin down the road of telling landlords who they can and cannot accommodate, it quickly turns into a slippery slope because it could be seen as wrongful discrimination in the eyes of the renter. Whether the issue is dependent on race, disability, ethnicity, culture, pets or stereotypes, many disputes can arise between a landlord and a tenant or potential tenant. That is why you need an experienced Oregon landlord tenant attorney to help protect your rights. If you are a landlord that is facing a contentious dispute regarding wrongful discrimination, do not hesitate to contact the landlord law specialist at Timothy L. Murphy, Attorney at Law today.