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Assistance Animals

For some persons with disabilities, an assistance animal may be necessary to afford them equal housing opportunity.

What Is an Assistance Animal?

An assistance animal is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or that provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified effects of a personā€™s disability. An assistance animal is not a pet.

Obligations of Housing Providers

Individuals with a disability may request to keep an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation to a housing providerā€™s pet restrictions.

Housing providers cannot refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a person with a disability the equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.

The Fair Housing Act requires a housing provider to allow a reasonable accommodation involving an assistance animal in situations that meet all the following conditions:

  • A request was made to the housing provider by or for a person with a disability
  • The request was supported by reliable disability-related information, if the disability and the disability-related need for the animal were not apparent and the housing provider requested such information, and
  • The housing provider has not demonstrated that:
    • Granting the request would impose an undue financial and administrative burden on the housing provider
    • The request would fundamentally alter the essential nature of the housing providerā€™s operations
    • The specific assistance animal in question would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others despite any other reasonable accommodations that could eliminate or reduce the threat
    • The request would not result in significant physical damage to the property of others despite any other reasonable accommodations that could eliminate or reduce the physical damage

Examples

A reasonable accommodation request for an assistance animal may include, for example:

  • A request to live with an assistance animal at a property where a housing provider has a no-pets policy or
  • A request to waive a pet deposit, fee, or other rule as to an assistance animal.

Filing a Complaint

If you believe you have been unlawfully denied a reasonable accommodation for an assistance animal or have otherwise experienced discrimination in housing, you can file a complaint with FHEO.

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