Assistance Animals for People with Disabilities
Disability is defined under the Fair Housing Act as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities.” This definition includes people who have a history of such an impairment, and people perceived as having such an impairment. Many people with disabilities require the use of assistance animals in their daily lives, such as a guide dog for a person who is blind, or a seizure alert dog for a person who suffers from epilepsy. While it is permitted to restrict pets from rental properties or condominiums, it is not lawful to deny a person with a disability the right to possess an assistance animal, as long as the animal’s function has a direct connection to the person’s disability. Assistance animals are different from “pets” under the Fair Housing Act, as their specific role is to assist a person with a disability.
A landlord, property manager, condominium board, or any other housing provider cannot:
- Deny a person with a disability the right to have an assistance animal, when requested as a reasonable accommodation
- Deny occupancy or evict a person with a disability because he/she requests an assistance animal
- Charge extra fees (monthly pet rent, additional deposit) for an assistance animal
- Stall or delay responding to a request for an assistance animal
A landlord, property manager, condominium board or any other housing provider may request additional information or documentation to evaluate the reasonableness of a request for an assistance animal if the requester has a disability that is not obvious, or the disability-related need for the assistance animal is not apparent.
If you live in Philadelphia, Southeast Pennsylvania or Lehigh Valley and have questions regarding assistance animals in housing, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-540-FAIR or complete an online form.