HUD Issues Guidelines on Assistance Animals and Reasonable Accommodations
Earlier this year, HUD issued new guidelines on providing reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities who require assistance animals. The guidelines discuss how the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) intersect regarding the use of service or assistance animals by persons with disabilities.
The FHA prohibits landlords from discriminating based on disability, race, color, national origin, religion, sex, and familial status. The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and state and local government activities. Both laws address the use of service or assistance animals by people with disabilities. The FHA applies to nearly all types of housing, including conventional housing communities; however, some types of housing, such as public housing, are covered under both laws.
The new HUD guidance explains that pet restrictions cannot be used to deny or limit housing to people with disabilities who require the use of an assistance animal because of their disability. Housing providers must grant reasonable accommodations in such instances, in accordance with the law. The guidance also describes the Justice Department’s revised definition of “service animal” under the ADA, as well as housing providers’ obligations when multiple nondiscrimination laws apply.
The ADA requires equal access for people with disabilities using trained service dogs in public accommodations and government facilities. Under the Fair Housing Act, housing providers have a further obligation to accommodate people with disabilities who, because of their disability, require trained service dogs or other types of assistance animals to perform tasks, provide emotional support, or alleviate the effects of their disabilities.
The new HUD guidance, “Notice on Service Animals and Assistance Animals for People with Disabilities in Housing and HUD-Funded Programs,” and other resources on handling reasonable accommodation requests are available on our Web site here.