Short answer: No.

As we’ve discussed in the past, the new Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”) regulations become effective on March 15th. Among other things, the new ADA regulations define “service animal” as “a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability…” The regulations exclude animals other than dogs and require the service animal to work or perform tasks directly related to the handler’s disability. Most notably, the regulations expressly exclude emotional support animals from the definition of service animals.

So how does this affect a disabled person’s request for a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”)?  It doesn’t. The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) recently issued a memo stating that the new ADA definition of “service animal” does NOT affect the reasonable accommodation analysis under the FHA.  So, even if an association has a no-pet rule, the association will be required to allow a disabled person a pet if needed to use and enjoy their home. And, the FHA does not discriminate amongst types of pets. Unlike the ADA species other than dogs, with or without training, are recognized as necessary assistance pets under the reasonable accommodation provisions of the FHA.

For more information on FHA reasonable accommodations, see our article, “Join the Club.”

Melissa M. Garcia
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