Woman denied housing in Carteret, NJ over emotional support pit bull
CARTERET — The owner of a trailer park won't sell a home to a couple because of the breed of the woman's emotional support animal, according to their real estate agent.
The agent, who asked that New Jersey 101.5 not publish her name, said Tower Trailer Park owner Georgen Benhardt won't sell a home to the couple raising a toddler because Benhardt doesn't want to be responsible for the woman's emotional support pit bull.
The trailer park told New Jersey 101.5 that its pet policy allows one pet per household that is 25 pounds or less. Benhardt, however, reportedly said she would be fine with a support animal over that limit if it was a different breed, such as a golden retriever, according to the agent.
The agent said the pit bull has been prescribed by a doctor for the mother's disability. And under New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination, prescribed emotional support animals are not considered pets and therefore are exempt from most pet policies.
The agent said her clients, who can afford to pay in cash for the $40,000 home they want, are the victims of housing discrimination. She has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development over the denial.
Assistant animal rules and complaints
In 2020, HUD released an Assistance Animals Notice stating complaints involving assistance animals have significantly increased in recent years. A fact sheet distilling the information in the notice states a person cannot be excluded for having a legitimate assistance animal.
"Housing providers may not exclude or charge a fee or deposit for assistance animals because these animals serve an important function that individuals with disabilities that affect major life activities need in order to have equal opportunity in housing," the fact sheet states.
A general inquiry email for Tower Trailer Park responded to a request for the park's pet policy but did not respond to a request for comment. Benhardt did not respond to a phone call on Tuesday.