Unraveling The Mysteries Of The Fair Housing Act – Service Animals Explained

a dog benefiting from the fair housing act service animals

What do you know about Fair Housing Act service animals?

Are you a pet owner with disabilities, looking for guidance on how to make sure your animal is legally allowed in housing units?

The Fair Housing Act ensures that individuals with disabilities have the right to keep service animals even when housing policies say ‘no pets’.

This article will explain what the Fair Housing Act says about service animals and how it can help protect you and your companion.

Fair Housing Act

Definition of Service Animals

Service animals are specially trained animals that help people with disabilities.

They provide a variety of assistance such as helping to guide the visually impaired, alerting those with hearing impairments, and providing essential support for those in wheelchairs or walkers.

Types of Service Animals

The most common type of service animal is a guide dog for the blind. These dogs are specially trained to lead their owner safely around obstacles like stairs, curbs, and other hazardous areas. Other types of service animals include:

  • Hearing Dogs – Specialized dogs that respond to sound cues from their owners and can alert them when someone is knocking at the door, ringing a bell, or calling out their name.
  • Mobility Assistance Dogs – Trained to assist wheelchair users by aiding them in getting up from their chairs, retrieving items dropped on the ground, opening doors, and more.
  • Psychiatric Support Animals – Help people manage emotional conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by providing comfort during times of distress and performing tasks such as reminding owners to take medications or calming them down during an anxiety attack.

These special animals offer invaluable help throughout day-to-day life making it easier for disabled individuals to live independent lives without fear or hesitation.

They also provide companionship which can be extremely beneficial for people who may otherwise feel isolated due to disability-related issues.

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Rights and Obligations Under the Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation that was signed into law in 1968.

Its purpose is to ensure that all people regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or familial status have equal access to housing opportunities.

It also prohibits discrimination in both the sale and rental of property as well as the financing of those purchases and rentals.

Rights Under The Fair Housing Act:

  • Everyone has the right to fair treatment when seeking housing regardless of protected characteristics such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or familial status.
  • All landlords must provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities if needed for the use and enjoyment of a unit.
  • Landlords are prohibited from discriminating against potential tenants based on any type of source income (such as SSI).


  • Landlords are obligated under this act not to discriminate against any person who wishes to rent or purchase a home due to their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or familial status.
  • It is illegal for landlords/sellers/brokers/developers etc., to advertise properties using language intended only towards certain groups they wish to exclude from applying for an open unit- e.g advertising “no families” instead of “no more than two occupants per lease” which would be permissible under FHA regulations.
  • Landlords are required by law to make reasonable accommodations so persons with physical disabilities can fully enjoy living in and benefiting from the premises – these include modifications such as adding ramps outside entrances or widening doorways inside units that comply with ADA accessibility standards.

Exceptions to Prohibited Discrimination in the Service Animals Fair Housing Act

Fair Housing Act

The Service Animals Fair Housing Act is an important and necessary piece of legislation for the protection of those who suffer from disabilities.

It prohibits discrimination against people based on their need to use a service animal, however, certain exceptions must be taken into consideration.

Generally speaking, any landlord or housing provider who has a ‘no pets’ policy cannot deny a person access to housing because they have a service animal.

However, there are some instances in which it may be permissible to restrict or deny access due to legitimate concerns about public health and safety:

  • When the specific service animal poses a direct threat to others – this includes aggressive behavior from the animal that isn’t directly related to its duties as well as animals that haven’t been vaccinated properly;
  • If allowing the service animal would cause an undue financial burden on the landlord/housing provider;
  • The species of service animals allowed are restricted by state or local laws;
  • Emotional support animals are not considered “service animals” under this legislation so landlords/housing providers can legally refuse them.

These exemptions allow landlords/housing providers to still manage their properties effectively while maintaining compliance with the Service Animals Fair Housing Act.

But if these criteria do not apply then all reasonable accommodations should be provided for prospective tenants with disabilities who require assistance from service animals.

This could include waiving pet deposits or making other adjustments such as allowing extra time for cleaning after tenancy ends etc., without putting either party at an unfair advantage financially or otherwise.

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Accommodation Requests for Service Animals

Fair Housing Act service animals

Accommodation requests for service animals are an important consideration for businesses to make when providing services to their customers.

Businesses must ensure that all customers, regardless of whether they have a disability or not, receive the same level of access and respect in terms of the products and services offered.

When it comes to accommodating service animals, business owners should be aware of the legal requirements set out by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA requires that businesses provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities who use service animals on premises open to the public.

This includes allowing them access to any area normally used by members of the public unless there is a legitimate health or safety hazard posed by having an animal present.

Business owners should also take other steps when making accommodation requests for service animals such as:

  • Verifying that a customer’s animal is indeed trained as a service animal – typically through verbal assurance from their handler;
  • Offering reasonable alternatives if necessary – e.g., offering seating away from other patrons if someone’s pet is disruptive;
  • Avoiding questions about what type of disability someone has, instead focusing on factual inquiries about how their animal assists; and
  • Refraining from charging additional fees or deposits related solely to having a service animal present.

Business owners need to remember that they are legally obligated under ADA regulations to accommodate reasonable requests regarding service animals.

Both in terms of granting physical access but also respecting peoples’ privacy rights while doing so.

Businesses must create policies around this issue that promote inclusion while still ensuring everyone remains safe during their visit!

Fair Housing Act service animals
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In conclusion, service animals are a great resource for assisting people with disabilities. They have the right to be allowed in any location that is open to the public under the Fair Housing Act.

Although there are exceptions that may apply, it is important to remember that people with disabilities should not be discriminated against when requesting accommodations from housing providers due to their need for a service animal.

It is also essential for housing providers and tenants alike to understand how requests for reasonable accommodations can best be handled for everyone involved to feel safe and respected within their home or community setting.


What Is the Fair Housing Act?

The Fair Housing Act is a federal law enacted in 1968 that prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.

This law makes it illegal to refuse to rent or sell housing or discriminate in terms of financing and other related activities because of these protected classes.

Are Service Animals Covered Under the Fair Housing Act?

Yes. The US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has interpreted service animals as being covered under the definition of “assistance animal” which is used when referring to people with disabilities under the FHA regulations.

This means that landlords must make reasonable accommodations for tenants who require service animals unless doing so would create an undue burden on them or significantly alter their services provided.

Are Emotional Support Animals Covered by the Fair Housing Act?

Yes. Emotional support animals are considered assistance animals under both state and federal laws such as the FHA and are therefore afforded certain protections by this legislation.

Landlords must provide reasonable accommodation for tenants who need emotional support animals unless doing so would cause undue hardship on them or disrupt their services provided to others in some way.

What Are Some Examples of Reasonable Accommodations for Service Animals?

Some examples of reasonable accommodations for service animals could include allowing access into areas where pets may not typically be allowed (such as swimming pools).

providing additional space within apartments; waiving pet deposits; providing ramps instead of stairs; etcetera depending on what type of accommodation is needed for a particular individual with a disability requiring a service animal.

Do All Pet Restrictions Apply to Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals Too?

No, all pet restrictions do not apply to service animals or emotional support animals since they are considered assistance rather than pets according to both state and federal laws including those outlined by the FHA regulations mentioned earlier.

Landlords should consider making any necessary changes related to rules about pets if they have been requested due to someone needing an assistance animal such as one trained for therapeutic reasons like PTSD treatment purposes beforehand too avoid potential legal consequences later down the road though!

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