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FHEO Notice on Assistance Animals for People with Disabilities

Monday, May 06, 2013

HUD FHEO Notice 2013-01 explains reasonable accommodation obligations regarding assistance animals for people with disabilities under three laws: the Fair Housing Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The April 25 notice, issued by HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO), explains that the Fair Housing Act covers most types of housing, including privately owned and federally assisted housing. Section 504 covers housing providers that receive federal financial assistance from HUD. ADA applies to public entities that provide housing, such as public housing agencies and state and local government entities. ADA also applies to public accommodations, such as rental offices, shelters, and assisted living facilities. 

Under the Fair Housing Act and Section 504, a disabled person must be allowed to use an assistance animal in housing that otherwise prohibits pets. The notice stresses that assistance animals are not pets. Assistance may include animals that provide emotional support for people with disabilities. The notice lists three reasons a housing provider may use to prohibit use of an assistance animal, but warns that those reasons must apply to the specific animal and not to stereotypes based on breed or size. Housing providers may ask individuals who have disabilities that are not visible to provide documentation of their disabilities. Deposits for assistance animals are prohibited.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) definition of assistance animal in ADA is limited to dogs that are individually trained, and it expressly prohibits use for emotional support. Under ADA, an assistance animal may not be denied access to an ADA-covered facility, unless one of three exceptions apply to the specific dog.

View HUD’s media release at: http://1.usa.gov/12QzzNW

View FHEO Notice 2013-01 at: http://1.usa.gov/157LPy5

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