ADA Accommodations – Animals Assisting Tenants

By Lane V. Erickson, Attorney

A reasonable accommodation, when it comes to landlord and tenant relationships, occurs when there is a change in rules, policies, practices, or services so that a person with a disability will have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling unit or common space.  A landlord is required to do everything it can to assist a disabled tenant.  However, the landlord is not required to make changes that would fundamentally alter the program or create an undue financial and/or administrative burden on the business of being a landlord.  Reasonable accommodations might be necessary at all stages of the landlord-tenant relationship process, including providing an application; providing actual tenancy, or to prevent eviction.

Concerning the ADA and Fair Housing requirements regarding animals, on April 25, 2013, HUD issued Official Notice FHEO-2013-0 which contained the following statements:

This notice explains certain obligations of housing providers under the Fair Housing Act (FHAct), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with respect to animals that provide assistance to individuals with disabilities. The Department of Justice’s (DOT) amendments to its regulations’ for Titles II and III of the ADA limit the definition of “service animal” under the ADA to include only dogs, and further define “service animal” to exclude emotional support animals. This definition, however, does not limit housing providers’ obligations to make reasonable accommodations for assistance animals under the FHAct or Section 504. Persons with disabilities may request a reasonable accommodation for any assistance animal, including an emotional support animal, under both the FHAct and Section 504. In situations where the ADA and the FHAct/Section 504 apply simultaneously (e.g., a public housing agency, sales or leasing offices, or housing associated with a university or other place of education), housing providers must meet their obligations under both the reasonable accommodation standard of the FHAct/Section 504 and the service animal provisions of the ADA.  This notice applies to all housing providers covered by the FHAct, Section 504, and/or the ADA

To provide guidance to landlords who receive a request from either a current or a prospective tenant, HUD provided the following additional guidelines:

Housing providers are to evaluate a request for a reasonable accommodation to possess an assistance animal in a dwelling using the general principles applicable to all reasonable accommodation requests. After receiving such a request, the housing provider must consider the following:

(1) Does the person seeking to use and live with the animal have a disability — i.e., a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities?

(2) Does the person making the request have a disability-related need for an assistance animal? In other words, does the animal work, provide assistance, perform tasks or services for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provide emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of a person’s existing disability?

If the answer to question (1) or (2) is “no,” then the FHAct and Section 504 do not require a modification to a provider’s “no pets” policy, and the reasonable accommodation request may be denied.

As a result of the official Notice described above, landlords have a right to seek and obtain written medical verification from prospective or current tenants who are seeking to have a “service” or “comfort” animal of any sort.

If you are a landlord or a tenant and you have questions about whether an animal qualifies as a reasonable accommodation, we can help.  Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Landlord and Tenant Law and Real Estate attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at  We will answer your Idaho Landlord and Tenant Law and Real Estate questions and will help you solve your Idaho Landlord and Tenant Law and Real Estate needs


This website includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer for advice on specific legal issues.

Posted in:
Published on:

Comments are closed.

Contact Information