Assistance Animal FAQs, Part 4: Tenants with Animal Allergies

In this four-part series we’re featuring answers to some tricky questions attendees asked during our recent webinar, How to Handle Requests for Assistance Animals, presented by attorney Theresa L. Kitay.

Q: I have a tenant who’s allergic to dogs and cats. What should I do when people bring their emotional support animals into common areas, causing problems for the person with allergies?

A: As a housing provider, it is not your job to rank disabilities and to decide who's more disabled than somebody else, and people with severe allergies are just as disabled under the law as people who need an emotional support animal. They both get to make full use and enjoyment of their housing including the common areas. If it’s a problem, you’ll need to declare a dog-free zone in some of your common areas, or an animal-free zone in those common areas, assuming that the presence of the emotional support animal in the particular area is reasonable. For instance, is it reasonable in the clubhouse? Yes. Is it reasonable in a dining room? Maybe not. Is it reasonable in the pool area? Yes. Is it reasonable in the pool? No. But you have to accommodate both people with disabilities, and often the only way to do that is to basically declare animal-free zones.