A February 17 Memorandum from HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) to its Regional Directors clarifies that under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1974, people with disabilities are entitled to have assistance animals as a ‘reasonable accommodation’ in housing that otherwise prohibits animals. In order to qualify for this reasonable accommodation, the assistance animal must be necessary for the person to have an equal opportunity to use a dwelling or to participate in a housing service. There must be a connection between the disability and the assistance the animal provides.
The impetus for this Memorandum is a September 15, 2010 Department of Justice (DOJ) rule pertaining to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) limiting the definition of ‘service animal’ to trained dogs and explicitly excluding emotional support animals. FHEO’s Memorandum clarifies that under the Fair Housing Act, and Section 504, a disabled person may request a reasonable accommodation for assistance animals, with or without training, in addition to dogs and including emotional support animals.
The new ADA definition of service animal applies to state and local government services, public accommodations, and commercial facilities. The Fair Housing Act covers housing services and facilities. HUD’s Section 504 regulations apply to all recipients of HUD funds.
There are two applicable September 15, 2010 DOJ rules, one regarding state and local services,
http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-21821.pdf; and one regarding public accommodations and commercial facilities, http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-21824.pdf
The February 17 FHEO Memorandum is at http://nlihc.org/doc/Service_Animal_Memo.pdf