On April 25, 2013, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released new guidance regarding “service animals” and “assistance animals” for people with disabilities. The notice, signed by HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity John Trasviña, explains housing providers’ obligations under the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to provide reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities who have assistance animals. It further discusses the Department of Justice’s 2010 revised definition of “service animals” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well as situations where each law is applicable.
The memo notes that the Fair Housing Act’s requirements apply “regardless of the presence of Federal financial assistance.” Section 504, by contrast, applies only to recipients of financial assistance from HUD.
Under both laws, housing providers must make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities who need assistance animals. Unlike “service animals” under the ADA, “assistance animals” under the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 are not required to be individually trained or certified. Moreover, the memo notes that “breed, size and weight limitations may not be applied to an assistance animal,” although a housing provider may deny a request for an assistance animal where
(1) the specific assistance animal in question poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation, or (2) the specific assistance animal in question would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation.
To read HUD’s guidance, click here.