November 29, 2018

Assistance Animals (Not Pets) in Housing

The law protecting animals that people may rely upon for support, emotional support, disability services, love, or friendship, is pretty confusing. That’s because there’s one set of rules for the “Housing” context (the Fair Housing Act), another set of rules for public places (the Americans with Disabilities Act), and the two sets of rules are VERY different. Most of the time someone’s “pet” does not qualify for either type of legal protection.

  • The rules of the Fair Housing Act apply ONLY in the context of housing (rental units, condos, homes), but cover lots of types of animals and services.
  • The rules of the ADA apply in all sorts of places (restaurants, movie theaters, stores, public buildings and offices), but protect ONLY dogs that have been individually trained to perform work for a person with a disability.

Questions about support animals come up most often in rental housing settings. We have an FAQ article on the LAWV Web Site specifically explaining the Fair Housing Act protections for “Assistance Animals” in rental and other housing settings. Read these FAQs to understand your rights in housing, and to understand how those rights may not mean anything at all when you go to the store or a restaurant or an office building.