Fact Sheet: Rights to Assistance Animals in Housing


This fact sheet discusses the rights of people with disabilities to keep assistance animals in housing that does not allow pets.

The term “assistance animal” (or “assistive animal”) refers to an animal that a person with a disability needs in order to use and enjoy the housing. An assistance animal can be either a service animal (a dog or miniature horse that is trained to perform disability-related work or tasks), or an emotional support animal (any animal that eases the effects of a person’s disability by providing comfort or support).

Rights to Assistance Animals in Housing

A. Do I have the Right to Keep my Service Animal in my Home, even if My Landlord or Homeowners’ Association has a No-Pets Policy?

Tenants and housing applicants with disabilities have the right to keep a service animal in housing under California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act (Unruh Act) (Civil Code Section 51) and Disabled Persons Act (CDPA) (Civil Code Sections 54.1 and 54.2). The Unruh Act and CDPA allow a person with a disability to bring a service animal, defined as a dog (or, in some cases, a miniature horse) that is individually trained to provide disability-related work or tasks, into housing, business and public spaces. To be covered under these state laws, a service animal must not present a direct threat to others or fundamentally alter the nature of the housing. Unless there is a reason to believe that an animal poses a direct threat, a housing provider can ask only two questions to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service...