Service animals and the fair housing act

Despite a plethora of federal and state laws protecting people with service animals, there’s still confusion about rights and obligations. This often leads to discrimination, and disputes between persons with service dogs and everything from landlords to restaurant owners. When it comes to housing, service animals are covered by the Fair Housing Act.

The Fair Housing Act prevents discrimination, and covers persons with disabilities in the sale, rental, or advertising of dwellings. For questions about individual cases, contact your local Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office.

In order to be protected by the Fair Housing Act, a service animal must pass the following three tests:

  1. The person must have a disability.
  2. The animal must serve a function directly related to the disability.
  3. The request to accommodate the service animal must be reasonable.

A disability is defined by the Fair Housing Act as an individual who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or has a record of an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment. The disability doesn’t have to be obvious.

The act covers most types of housing, but there are limited exceptions for single family homes sold or rented by an individual owner.

To learn more about this, visit Pet Partners’ page about service animals and housing.

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