No, a landlord cannot refuse access to a service dog as they are protected by the ADA. A service dog is a medical tool and not a pet.
Laws protecting Assistance Animals in No Pet Housing
There are two types of assistance animals that have special rights regarding housing. The first is service dogs and the second is emotional support animals. If you have a mental or physical disability that requires you to have either a Service Dog or an Emotional Support Animal, you have rights under Federal Law. A few of these rights include:
- 1). Access to “no pets” policy housing
- 2). Exemption from monthly pet fees
- 3). Exemption from a higher pet deposit
- 4). Exemption from breed or weight discrimination
The ADA does not put breed or weight restrictions on Service Dogs or Emotional Support Animals. This means a landlord must allow you housing regardless of the breed, age, and weight of your assistance animal. However, there is one exception to this rule. If your service dog/animal causes damage to the property or disruption/harm to the other tenants you can be asked to leave the building.
If you feel you have been discriminated against when it comes to housing, you can file an official complaint with the HUD in your area. If you feel a service dog is right for you, continue reading.
Overview on Service Dogs
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) recognizes a number of both physical and mental conditions that could require a Service Dog. Unlike an emotional support animal (ESA), the Service Dog is specifically trained to perform tasks an individual cannot do for themselves. This could be anything from retrieving dropped items, guiding the person, to alerting to an oncoming seizure. It is important to understand the difference between a service dog and an emotional support animal.
Training a Service Dog takes time and patience. This can be done by the individual requiring the dog or by a professional organization. Adopting a fully trained service dog can cost thousands of dollars. You may be interested in training your service dog yourself and seeking support from local trainers. Do not let cost prevent you from seeking support from a service dog.
Service Dogs are a tremendous aid for people in need, providing them with the freedom and independence many of us take for granted.
Overview on Service Dog Access Rights
When you have a legitimate Service Dog, you will have the right and access to all areas where the general public is allowed. This includes retail locations, restaurants, hotels, and beaches. In addition, when flying, you and your Service Dog will be granted in cabin seating of an airplane at no extra cost to you.
However, there may be some restrictions placed on your Service’s Dog’s accessibility. These include;
- Hospital ICU or other areas where special clothing is required
- Treatment area of an ambulance
- Restricted areas on a military base
- Zoo exhibit where the Service Animal may upset the animals of the exhibit
Overview on Registration and Vest of the Service Dog
After your Service Dog has been trained to perform the task(s) you need him to do, it’s time to have him registered. Register your service dog here – Service Dog Certification.
Once this is completed, you will then have access to a Service Dog vest. When your dog wears this special form of identification, it’s letting the public know that your canine companion is a working animal and therefore should be treated as such. This includes not interacting with the dog and making allowances for the animal to enter into all public areas. To learn more about service dog vest requirements click here.
Overview on Communication When You Have a Service Dog
There are two ways of communicating your need for a Service Dog to those that may dispel your requirement. The first is to always stay calm and don’t escalate the situation. Explain to the individual what tasks the Service Dog performs for you. This may be more necessary if your disability is not outwardly apparent.
The second line of communication is the documentation you received when you registered your Service Dog. This may be in the form of the vest, badges, and/or an official certificate of authenticity as we mentioned above.
If you are dealing with a particularly stubborn individual, read this guide on traveling with a service dog.
The Service Dog & You
Know your rights when it comes to having a Service Dog. If any of these rights have been violated, then go through the proper channels to ensure you get results. Having a Service Dog should not prevent you from living a life of freedom.