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Can a Landlord Reject a Service Dog or ESA Based on Breed?

06 July, 2019
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Why are there issues with dog breeds and housing?

According to an article published by NIMH, younger adults tend to believe that landlords and property managers discriminate against their animals, specifically if they have large dogs or dogs of a specific breed. Many would also speak of how properties that did accept pets would be less than substandard quality in comparison to the landlord’s pool of available listings and also report paying non-refundable pet fees and monthly pet rents.

For the tenants that contributed to the study, many said residents staying put in their rental apartments longer than those who do not have pets, given the difficulty of finding a place that will accommodate dogs. This difficulty, according to the results of the study, shows that this situation influences the types of dogs younger adults to acquire, such as smaller dogs that are known to work better in apartments. The presented case specifically references pets, not service animals. However, for those with service animals of specific or large breeds, conflicts can occur if the tenant has issues.

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What does the ADA say about service dog breeds?

The Americans with Disabilities Act describes in great detail about the role of service dogs as well as their rules and regulations. Because service dogs have specific rights to public places, it means they can also be any breed.

The ADA does not restrict the type of dog breed that can qualify for a service dog. Because any breed can be a service animal, facilities do not have the right to exclude a service animal based on the animal’s breed. Only if the animal has a history of misbehavior or is not under adequate control of the handler that the animal would be excluded, municipalities that have ordinances for certain breeds must also comply with ADA regulations, thus are not allowed to exclude a service animal off of fears or generalizations of that specific breed.

Because any breed of dog can be a service dog, facilities do not have the right to exclude a service dog based on the dog’s breed. Only if the animal has a history of misbehavior or is not under adequate control of the handler that the animal would be excluded, municipalities that have ordinances for certain breeds must also comply with ADA regulations, thus are not allowed to exclude a service dog off of fears or generalizations of that specific breed. Read: This means Pit bulls too!

Does the Fair Housing Act allow landlords to deny certain breeds as emotional support dogs?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) uses a broader term, assistance animals, to encompass animals such as service dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support animals.

The Fair Housing Act, which outlines the specific protocols and regulations that tenants and residents must follow, argues that housing providers cannot apply breed, size, or weight restrictions to assistance animals. It also agrees with ADA’s protocol that the removal of an animal must be based on the actual animal behavior, and not the assumptions and fears of the type of harms that could potentially happen. This also has protection under the FHA in regards to the potential resident, as those with disabilities are not allowed to be discriminated against because of those disabilities. In alignment with ADA and FHA, service dogs and emotional support dogs cannot be refused. Please note that ESA registration is not required by law, but can assist in identifying your animal as an emotional support animal to your landlord or HOA.

TLDR: Your assistance animal (service animal or emotional support dog) cannot be denied based on breed, size, or weight.

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What to do if your landlord refuses to accommodate?

If your request is reasonable and the landlord denies it, you, as a person with a disability, have the right to request your local government agency to investigate in the matter in claims of discrimination. Some options include:

  • You can file a discrimination complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, either online or you can call the Housing Discrimination Hotline: (800) 669-9777.
  • You can also file a complaint directly with your state’s agency if they investigate discriminatory claims.
  • You can contact a disability attorney.

Can landlords still charge pet fees?

Because service dogs and assistance animals are not considered pets, landlords, co-ops, and HOA’s are not allowed to charge tenants with extra pet fees or pet deposits. However, a tenant can still be charged fees for damages done by the animal to the home. It is also possible to charge residents if the animal is not able to be removed from the premises for misbehavior and/or damages.

If you cannot reach an amicable agreement with your landlord and you suspect they are discriminating agains you, you can seek support from your local Fair Housing Authority. It’s essential to file the discrimination within one year after the date of the discriminatory act, but it is recommended that it should be filed as soon as possible. The HUD or Fair Housing will then either investigate or submit it to another agency to investigate. As the HUD centers around those with disabilities, those that feel their rights were discriminated against can lead to legal actions such as compensation, changes in policies, and discrimination training. If you’re looking to file a discriminatory complaint, you can find more information about the investigation process on the HUD.gov website.

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1 comment

  1. Robert Cheek says: July 29, 2019

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