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Service Animals: HUD Issues Guidance for People with Disabilities

by Published On: May 02, 2013Updated On: May 22, 2013

Service Animals and Assistance Animals for People with Disabilities in Housing and HUD-Funded Programs is a noticed released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on April 25, 2013.

The notice explains the circumstances under which the Fair Housing Act (FHA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may require housing providers to allow tenants to live with "service" and "assistance" animals.

Under these laws, rules, policies, or practices must be modified to permit the use of an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation in housing when: 

  • Its use may be necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling and/or the common areas of a dwelling.

  • It may be necessary to allow a qualified individual with a disability to participate in, or benefit from, any housing program or activity receiving financial assistance from HUD.

While the definition of "service animal" contained in ADA regulations is very usefully clarified for areas of public accommodation (like theatres, airports, etc), it does not limit housing providers' obligations to grant reasonable accommodation requests for assistance animals in housing under either the FHA or Section 504. 

 Housing providers must still evaluate a request by an applicant or tenant to live with an "assistance animal" as it would any other request for reasonable accommodation.

The notice will be used by HUD staff to enforce federal fair housing laws as they apply to persons with disabilities who have a disability-related need to live with animals in both public and private housing.

An Analysis of the Service Animals Guidance

Scott Moore, a legal specialist for HUD’s Fair Housing Accessibility First Program and a member of the LeadingAge legal committee, shares his analysis with practical information for HUD housing providers

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