HUD Memo issued Jan 28, 2020

A PDF version of this memo can be obtained here.

Subject: Assessing a Person’s Request to Have an Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Fair Housing Act

1. Purpose: This notice explains certain obligations of housing providers under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) with respect to animals that individuals with disabilities may request as reasonable accommodations. There are two types of assistance animals: (1) service animals, and (2) other trained or untrained animals that do work, perform tasks, provide assistance, and/or provide therapeutic emotional support for individuals with disabilities (referred to in this guidance as a “support animal”). Persons with disabilities may request a reasonable accommodation for service animals and other types of assistance animals, including support animals, under the FHA. This guidance provides housing providers with a set of best practices for complying with the FHA when assessing requests for reasonable accommodations to keep animals in housing, including the information that a housing provider may need to know from a health care professional about an individual’s need for an assistance animal in housing. This guidance replaces HUD’s prior guidance, FHEO-2013-01, on housing providers’ obligations regarding service animals and assistance animals. In particular, this guidance provides a set of best
practices regarding the type and amount of documentation a housing provider may ask an individual with a disability to provide in support of an accommodation request for a support animal, including documentation of a disability (that is, physical or mental impairments that substantially limit at least one major life activity) or a disability-related need for a support animal when the disability or disability-related need for the animal is non-obvious and not known to the housing provider. By providing greater clarity through this guidance, HUD seeks to provide housing providers with a tool they may use to reduce burdens that they may face when they are uncertain about the type and amount of documentation they may need and may be permitted to request when an individual seeks to keep a support animal in housing. Housing providers may be subject to the requirements of several civil rights laws, including but not limited to the FHA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This guidance does not address how HUD will process complaints against housing providers under Section 504 or the ADA.

2.  Applicability: This notice applies to all housing providers covered by the FHA.1

3. Organization: There are two sections to this notice. The first, “Assessing a Person’s Request to Have an Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Fair Housing Act,” recommends a set of best practices for complying with the FHA when assessing accommodation requests involving animals to assist housing providers and help them avoid violations of the FHA. The second section to this notice, “Guidance on Documenting an Individual’s Need for Assistance Animals in Housing,” provides guidance on information that an individual seeking a reasonable accommodation for an assistance animal may need to provide to a housing provider about his or her disability-related need for the requested accommodation, including supporting information from a health care professional.

Questions regarding this notice may be directed to the HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Programs, or your local HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.