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UCLA Center for Accessible Education

The University of California, Los Angeles ("UCLA" or the "University") recognizes the importance of providing reasonable accommodations and modifications in its housing policies, practices, and services where necessary, for individuals with disabilities to be afforded equal access to the use and enjoyment of University-owned Housing. The website and subsequent handbook explain the specific requirements and guidelines which govern requests for reasonable accommodation in University housing.

The UCLA Center for Accessible Education (CAE) is responsible for the administration of UCLA’s commitment to ensuring access and participation for all students with qualifying disabilities. The Housing Accommodations Board through the Center for Accessible Education ("CAE") is responsible for evaluating requests for a reasonable accommodation and/or modification in University-owned housing. The CAE's Housing Accommodations Board evaluates housing accommodation requests, on a case-by-case matter, in accordance with California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA); The Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), and other laws or regulations as appropriate.

In evaluating the request, the Housing Accommodation Board will consult with UCLA Residential Life, the CAE, and other need-to-know individuals, as necessary, to determine whether the requested accommodation is necessary and reasonable.

Housing Accommodation Handbook

Check out this handbook for more detailed information.

Housing Accommodation Handbook

Housing at UCLA

Determining a Housing Accommodation

If you are a student with a disability as defined by Federal and State Housing Laws and are seeking a reasonable accommodation to University housing, you will need to submit a request for a housing accommodation. Requests for a housing accommodation can be made at any time. However, to ensure that the University has an opportunity to provide the requested accommodation for the desired quarter, housing applicants should submit their request as timely as possible.

Do I have a disability?

It is important to remember that in the context of the ADA, “disability” is a legal term rather than a medical one (a diagnosis is not sufficient and is not necessary for a housing accommodation request). A person with a disability is an: (a) individual with a physical or mental impairment that limits or substantially limits one or more major life activities; (b) individuals who are regarded as having such an impairment; and (c) individuals with a record of such an impairment.

How is the request for an accommodation evaluated during the determination process?

The Housing Accommodations Board consists of medical professionals, disability specialists, and housing staff that will evaluate the request for an accommodation in the following way:

  1. The student meets the definition of having a disability as defined by federal and state laws (the specific diagnosis need not be disclosed),
    1. The condition is a physical or mental impairment that limits or substantially limits a major life activity; or
    2. The individual has a recorded history of having an impairment that limits or substantially limits one or more major life activities; or
    3. The individual is regarded as having a disability.
  2. The relationship between the functional limitations associated with the requester’s disability and the need for the requested accommodation are necessary to afford an equal opportunity to usage and enjoyment of University-owned Housing.
    1. Third party must present the justification for any necessary and needed accommodation and/or modification to University-owned housing rules, policies, practices, or services when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such a person [with a disability] an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University-owned Housing.
    2. Words such as “necessary”, “essential”, or “prescribed” may be used to describe the requestor’s need for the recommended accommodation, but are not necessary.
    3. The third party must state how the accommodation provides equal use and enjoyment of University-owned Housing by mitigating at least one of the functional limitations directly associated with the disability.

Quick Tip: To show that a requested accommodation may be necessary, there must be an identifiable relationship, or nexus, between the requested accommodation and the resident's disability. A failure to provide that information for the committee may result in a delay of the requested accommodation or in possible denial.

Information that May Be Requested for Housing Accommodation Requests

The Accommodations Board shall limit its requests to only the information necessary to verify whether the individual making the request has a disability and/or to evaluate if the reasonable accommodation is necessary to provide the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing.

Obvious Disability

If the individual's disability and the necessity for the accommodation are obvious (e.g. an individual with a physical disability using a wheelchair needs an accessible room), the individual need only explain what type of accommodation they are requesting. No verification of disability is required under these circumstances. The CAE reserves the right to make an in-person individualized assessment in order to determine that the request is observable, logical, and necessary. If the disability is obvious but the need for the accommodation is not obvious and/or logical, the CAE reserves the right to request documentation that establishes the nexus between the disability and the need for the requested accommodation.

Non-Obvious Disability

If the disability and need for the accommodation is not obvious, the University requires the individual to produce documentation from a reliable and appropriate third-party that will clearly provide the information necessary to verify whether the individual making the request has a disability and/or to evaluate if the reasonable accommodation is necessary to provide the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing.

Who Should be the Third Party?

A reliable third party is someone who is familiar with the individual's disability and can describe why and how the requested accommodation is necessary. A reliable third-party includes, but is not limited to, a social worker, licensed therapist, psychiatrist, physician, doctor or other medical professional.

If the third produces insufficient information for the Accommodations Board to determine whether an accommodation is necessary, the Housing Coordinator will inform the individual in writing of the verification’s insufficiency and may request additional information, including speaking directly with the individual supplying the third-party verification, within seven (7) business days of receiving the verification.

The individual making the request for accommodation must cooperate with the Housing Coordinator in a timely manner by providing all information needed to determine whether the requested accommodation is necessary.

How Should the Information be Provided?

Documentation is to be provided in writing by the appropriate medical/licensed third party professional who is in a position to produce the necessary information regarding the individual’s disability. Documentation must include information the professional’s signature, and licensure information.

Documentation and Support Letter Guidelines

The University of California, Los Angeles ("UCLA" or the "University") recognizes the importance of providing reasonable accommodations in its housing policies and practices, where necessary, for individuals with disabilities to use and enjoy University-owned Housing. The Housing Accommodations Board, operated through the Center for Accessible Education ("CAE"), is responsible for evaluating whether to grant or deny requests for reasonable accommodations within University-owned housing.

Guidelines and Example Letter Template

Please review the Documentation and Support Letter Guidelines located in the Housing Accommodation Handbook for a clear understanding of the documentation standards for housing accommodation requests. By providing a full and complete response, professionals can help expedite the processing of the accommodation request and reduce the Board's need to inquire for additional information. Ultimately, when the disability is not readily apparent, all documentation and/or support letters submitted for housing accommodation requests within University-owned housing should accomplish the following:

1. The student meets the definition of having a disability as defined by federal and state laws (the specific diagnosis need not be disclosed),
a. The condition is a physical or mental impairment that limits or substantially limits a major life activity;
b. The individual is regarded as having a disability.

2. The relationship between the functional limitations associated with the requester’s disability and the need for the requested accommodation are necessary to afford an equal opportunity to usage and enjoyment of University-owned Housing.
a. Third party must present the justification (i.e., why and how) any necessary and needed accommodation and/or modification to University-owned housing rules, policies, practices, or services when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such a person [with a disability] an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University-owned Housing.
b. Words such as “necessary”, “essential”, or “prescribed” may be used to describe the requestor’s need for the recommended accommodation, but are not necessary.

We encourage you to utilize our example letter template modeled after Disability Rights California.

[Date]

To [UCLA Housing Accommodation Board]:

I am the [physician/psychiatrist/psychologist/therapist/social worker/occupational therapist] for [Name], and am familiar with [Name] condition. [Name] has a disability that causes certain functional limitations. These limitations include [list functional limitations that require the requested accommodation].

[The requested accommodation] is necessary for [Name] to [apply for/have equal access to the services and benefits of] [name of school]. [Describe how the accommodation will assist or support the individual].

Thank you for considering this requested accommodation for [Name].

Sincerely,

[Name and Title]

Do Not Submit

  • Handwritten letters from licensed professionals;
  • Verification of prescriptions/prescribed medications;
  • Handwritten patient records or notes from patient charts;
  • Documentation provided by a member of the student’s family;
  • Diagnoses on prescription pads;
  • Self-evaluations;
  • Research articles; or
  • Original evaluation/diagnostic documents—submit copies of the original documents.
  • Documentation stored on electronic devices like CD-Rom or USB or flash drives.
  • Pictures of documentation, even if the text is readable.
  • Documentation without medical provider signatures

Service and Assistance Animals

Service Animal

UCLA recognizes the importance of “Service Animals as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) and the broader category of “Assistance Animals under the Fair Housing Act (refer to: Animals on University Property, policy 135). UCLA is committed to allowing individuals with disabilities the use of a Service Animal on campus to facilitate their full-participation and equal access to the University’s programs and activities. This section outlines the process for requesting a service animal in University-owned Housing.

What is a Service Animal?

A Service Animal means any dog or miniature horse that is individually trained to do work or perform a task for an individual with a disability, including physical, sensory, or other disability. The work or tasks performed by the Service Animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability.

Readily Apparent Disability

When a person's disability is obvious, or otherwise known to the CAE through an individualized assessment, and if the need for the requested accommodation is also readily apparent, then the CAE may not request any additional information about the residents’ disability or the disability-related need for the service animal.

If the animal is a service dog trained to perform service tasks, then the resident’s Housing Accommodation Request must answer two questions (1) Is this a service animal that is required because of a disability? AND (2) What work or tasks has the animal been trained to perform?

Any resident with a service animal requesting to live in University housing must submit:

  • Housing Accommodation Request Form, and
  • Explanation of the disability-related need for the animal such as the type of work and/or tasks the animal is trained to perform (NOTE: refer to apparent vs not apparent sections above).

Not Readily Apparent Disability

When a disability is not obvious and/or if the requester's disability is known or readily apparent to the CAE, but the need for the accommodation is not readily apparent or known, the CAE may request information that is necessary to evaluate the disability-related need for the accommodation. The CAE may request reliable disability-related information that (1) verifies that the person meets the Act's definition of disability (i.e., has a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities), (2) describes how the need for the requested accommodation mitigates one or more functional limitation, and (3) shows the relationship between the residents disability and the need for the requested accommodation.

Assistance Animal

UCLA is also committed to allowing Assistance Animals necessary to provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing. This section explains the specific requirements applicable to an individual’s use of an Assistance Animal in University housing (refer to: Animals on University Property, policy 135.). This section applies solely to “Assistance Animals” which may be necessary in University housing. It does not apply to “service animals” as defined by the ADAAA.

What is an Assistance Animal?

Assistance Animals can be any animal and are not trained to perform specific tasks directly related to an individual’s disability. Instead, assistance animals may provide necessary emotional support to an individual with a disability but are not considered a Service Animal under the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Determination of an Assistance Animal

The question in determining if an Assistance Animal will be allowed in University housing is whether or not the Assistance Animal is necessary to afford the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing and its presence in University housing is reasonable. Per UCLA Policy 135, even if the individual with a disability establishes necessity for an Assistance Animal and it is allowed in University housing, an Assistance Animal is not permitted in other areas of the University (e.g. dining facilities, academic buildings, athletic building, facilities, classrooms, labs, etc.). Please note: with the exception of a service animal, the animal should not be in residence unless/until the request is approved. The approval of a request is animal-specific and is not transferable to a different animal.

Required Documentation

To protect public health and safety, UCLA regulates the types of animals allowed on University property. State and local regulations provide the basis for University policies intended to protect the campus community from potential health and safety hazards posed by animals brought to campus (UCLA Policy 135). In accordance with the University of California Office of the President, the University does not accept letters from numerous online companies who (in exchange for a fee) purport to offer verification or certification of the need for an emotional support animal.

The resident is to submit a Housing Accommodation Request Form for an Assistance Animal. The resident must submit reliable disability-related information which: (1) verifies that the person meets the Act's definition of disability (i.e., has a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities), (2) describes how the needed accommodation mitigates one or more functional limitations, and (3) justifies the relationship between the residents disability and the need for the requested Assistance Animal as a necessary accommodation for the equal use and enjoyment of the University housing assignment.

The Housing Accommodations Board will base the reasonableness of the therapeutic relationship as described in the UCLA Housing Accommodation Handbook and this Housing Accommodation website.

If the applicant is providing third-verification as support for an assistance animal (non-service animal), please ensure they respond to the following questions, failing to do so may delay the process:

  1. Required: Explicitly verifies that the person requesting the Assistance Animal meets the Act's definition of disability (i.e., has a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities).
  2. Required: Describes how the animal works, provides assistance, performs tasks or services for the benefit of this individual with a disability, or provide emotional support that alleviates one or more of their identified symptoms or effects of the applicant’s existing disability (e.g., what are the limitations the assistance animal mitigates, how is what the animal performs related to the disabling condition, and what is the difference in limitations, with and without, the animal being present).
  3. Required: Describe how your therapeutic or medical relationship with the applicant has informed the basis for the conclusion and recommendation for the necessity of an assistance animal within University Housing.
  4. Optional: Describe any expertise and training you have with regard to therapeutic human/animal interaction.
  5. Optional: Describe how much of an opportunity you have had in observing the interactions between the person and the animal in question as well as any observations of the animal's behavior around other commonly present animals or persons.

If providing a letter in lieu of the Housing Accommodation Verification form, we encourage to review the Fact Sheet: Rights to Assistance Animals in Housing. Refer to the "sample verification letter"at the end of the site. The template provided by Disability Rights California is also used by the CAE. You may also refer to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (January, 2020): Assessing a Person’s Request to Have an Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Fair Housing Act.

Sample Verification Letter

[Date]

To [UCLA Housing Accommodation Board]:

I am the physician/psychiatrist/psychologist/therapist/social worker/occupational therapist for [Your name], and am familiar with [Name] condition. [Name] has a disability that causes certain functional limitations. These limitations include [list functional limitations that require the requested accommodation].

[Describe how your therapeutic or medical relationship with the applicant has informed the basis for the conclusion and recommendation for the necessity of an assistance animal within University Housing].

An assistance animal is necessary for [Name] to [apply for/have equal access to the services and benefits of] UCLA owned Housing. Specifically, [describe how the animal will assist or support the individual].

Thank you for assessing the requested accommodation for [Name].

Sincerely,

[Name and Title]

Therapeutic Relationship and Documentation from the Internet

The Housing Accommodation Board will base the reasonableness of the therapeutic relationship as described by The American Counseling Associations Code of Ethics C.2.a Boundaries of Competence and the Human-Animal Interactions in Counseling (herein referred to as HAIC) statement regarding Assistance Animals (valid through March 2024). Specifically, HAIC states that:

“…counselors abstain from writing letters for persons seeking counseling or assessment for the sole purpose of obtaining an ESA recommendation letter unless the counselor has specialized training and experience in working with the human-animal bond in counseling such as would be outlined in the ACA AAT-C Competencies, due to the potential risks involved for clients, the public, the counselor, and the animal."

Generally, mental health care professionals who have had no contact with a patient except for limited encounters specifically intended to produce an ESA letter are not considered reliable; to confirm the professional-client relationship as such limited encounters lack diagnostic rigor and the level of familiarity with the functional limitations arising from the diagnosis to support robust recommendations.

The Board also adheres to the guidelines provided by the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, Assessing a Person’s Request to Have an Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Fair Housing Act. Notice: FHEO-2020-01 Issued: January 28, 2020.

Documentation from the Internet

Some websites sell certificates, registrations, and licensing documents for assistance animals to anyone who answers certain questions or participates in a short interview and pays a fee. Under the Fair Housing Act, a housing provider may request reliable documentation when an individual requesting a reasonable accommodation has a disability and disability-related need for an accommodation that are not obvious or otherwise known. In HUD’s experience, such documentation from the internet is not, by itself, sufficient to reliably establish that an individual has a non-observable disability or disability-related need for an assistance animal.

Requesting a Housing Accommodation

Step 1: Submit a Housing Accommodation Request Form

An individual with a disability must complete the “Housing Accommodation Request Form” (the “Request Form”) to request a reasonable accommodation for the year in which they are guaranteed University-owned housing. Copies of the Request Form are available from the Center for Accessible Education. If the individual requires assistance in completing the Request Form because of their disability, the Housing Accommodations Coordinator will provide assistance in completing the form.

Housing Accommodation Request Form 2021-2022 Academic Year

  • Incoming Resident: The CAE will accept and consider requests for reasonable accommodation in University housing at any time. The individual making the request should complete the Request Form to the CAE as soon as practicably possible before moving into University housing. However, if the request for accommodation is made fewer than 60 days before the individual intends to move into University housing, the University cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the individual’s accommodation needs during the first quarter or term of occupancy.
  • Current Resident: If the need for the accommodation arises when an individual already resides in University housing, they are to complete the Request Form as soon as practicably possible. Housing cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the accommodation needs during the quarter or term in which the request is received.

Step 2: Information that May Be Requested

The CAE shall limit its requests for information to only that which is necessary to verify whether the individual making the request has a disability and/or to evaluate if the reasonable accommodation is necessary to provide the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy University housing. To determine if you need to submit third party documentation, please refer to the Documentation and Support Letter Guidelines of the Housing Accommodation Handbook.

  • Obvious disability: If the individual's disability and the necessity for the accommodation are obvious (e.g. an individual with a physical disability using a wheelchair needs an accessible room), the individual need only explain what type of accommodation they are requesting (refer to Housing Accommodation Handbook). Residents will meet in-person with the Housing Accommodations Coordinator for an individualized assessment to establish the individual’s disability and need of the requested accommodation.
  • Non-obvious disability: If the disability and necessity for the accommodation are not obvious, the CAE requires the individual produce reliable third party documentation to verify that the individual has a disability and that the requested accommodation is necessary to provide the individual an equal opportunity to use and enjoy university housing.

Step 3: Determining Reasonableness

If the Board determines a requested accommodation is necessary and is not unreasonable, it will contact the individual, in writing, within seven (7) business days of its determination, and the Housing Coordinator shall provide Housing with the Board’s recommendation. All requests and housing recommendations are reviewed and determined on a case-by-case basis.

  • Unreasonable Accommodation: The Board may deny the requested accommodation if the accommodation is to: (1) impose an undue financial and/or administrative burden; (2) fundamentally alters university housing policies; (3) poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others or would cause substantial property damage to the property of others, including University property; and/or (4) is otherwise unreasonable to the operation of the University.
  • Incomplete Information: If the third party returns the documentation without sufficient information for the Board to determine whether an accommodation is necessary, the Housing Coordinator will inform the individual in writing of the documentations insufficiency and may request additional or clarifying information, including speaking directly with the individual supplying the third-party verification, within seven (7) to fourteen (14) business days of receiving the verification.
  • Interactive Process: The individual making the request for accommodation must cooperate with the Housing Coordinator and CAE in a timely manner in providing all information needed to determine whether the requested accommodation is necessary.

Step 4: Notification of Board Decision

Absent exceptional circumstances, within seven (7) working days of the Boards decision, the Housing Coordinator will contact the individual in writing. The decision may include but is not limited to: (1) a Housing recommendation based on the approval of the requested housing accommodation(s), or (2) an alternative to the requested accommodation, or (3) denial of the requested accommodation. Residents are provided an opportunity to appeal an accommodation decision. For more information, refer to Appealing a Housing Accommodation Decision section and on page 17 of the Housing Accommodation Handbook.

Appealing a Housing Accommodation

If the Board determines a requested accommodation is necessary but unreasonable, the Coordinator will contact the individual, in writing, within seven (7) business days of its determination and engage in an interactive process with the individual to determine if there are alternative accommodations that might effectively meet the individual’s disability-related needs.

If you wish to appeal the Board’s decision, to expedite the process and to maintain accuracy, please submit a CAE Appeals Form to initiate the appeal process. Appeals may also be submitted by contacting the Coordinator by phone at 310-825-1501 or by visiting the CAE at A-255 Murphy Hall.

What Appeals are Considered?

Appeals will generally be considered when new supporting documentation is provided in justification of the request, and/or when there is stated and explained belief that Board committed a procedural error in its initial review.

Declining an Alternative Accommodation

If the individual is unwilling to accept any alternative accommodation offered by the Board or there are no alternative accommodations available, the Coordinator will provide a verbal explanation and written notification to the individual of the denial, the reasons for the denial, the right to appeal the decision, and the procedures for that appeals process. The notification shall be in writing and made within seven (7) business days of the notification from the individual of their unwillingness to accept any of the alternative accommodations offered or the determination that there are no alternative accommodations available.

Housing Appeals Board

All appeals are reviewed by the Housing Appeals Board and may be in collaboration with Residential Life, ADA/Section 504 Compliance Officer, and/or other departments when necessary. If the appeal is denied, the Director of the CAE shall provide written notification of the denial to the individual and a written explanation with all of the reasons for the denial.