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Service and emotional support animals in housing

If you are a person with a disability who uses an animal for support, you need to understand:

  • What type of animal you have
  • What the laws say about your rights

Service and emotional support animals and housing laws

A service animal is a dog or miniature horse trained to do work or tasks for a person with a disability. 

An emotional support animal can be any animal that provides comfort or support that helps lessen one or more symptoms of a person’s disability. Emotional support animals do not need specific training.

Disability rights laws that cover housing 

Several laws protect people with disabilities from discrimination in housing:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • The Fair Housing Act (FHA) 
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

More than one law may apply to a particular housing situation. 

Learn more about how these disability rights laws apply to housing

Service animals in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Housing providers covered by the ADA almost always have to allow a service animal to be with its handler, even in places where pets aren’t allowed. 


A state university allows a student to have their service dog with them in their dorm room, even though there is a no pet policy for student housing. 

FHA and Section 504 and assistance animals

These laws include assistance animals. An assistance animal includes both service animals and emotional support animals.

Reasonable accommodation

Housing providers covered by the FHA or Section 504 may need to make changes or exceptions to their rules or policies so someone with an assistance animal has an equal opportunity to enjoy and use their housing unit. This is called a reasonable accommodation.


  • An apartment building allows someone who has an assistance animal to have the animal in their apartment, even though there is a no pet policy.
  • A housing provider does not require their regular pet deposit fee for an assistance animal.

Learn more

Ask us

If you have questions about service animals, we can help.

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