I am looking for the specific law/regulation in regards to service animals and weight restrictions at apts.?

We are in the process of getting a new home and have a service dog that weighs 52lbs, the apartments we are able to move to have a weight limit of 20lbs. I have given the manager all required documentation proving she is certified as a service animal, is current on all vaccines and a doctors note stating that she is medically necessary for a specific family member. The apartment manager is still unsure if she is willing to allow our dog to live there.

I have researched as much as possible and am fairly comfortable with saying that this is in violation of the ADA as well as the Fair Housing Act. However, I cannot find the specific website where it states that once a doctors note has been obtained denial of the animal based on weight is unlawful...please help.



2 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Service dogs and housing are covered by the FHA, not ADA. The Fair Housing Act covers most housing types, with limited exceptions. The Act generally does not cover single family residences sold or rented by a private, individual owner, provided that:

    the individual owner does not own any interest in, or have owned by someone else on his/her behalf, more than 3 such single-family houses at any one time.

    the private individual owner has not sold more than one nonowner occupied single-family house within a 24-month period.

    with regards to the sale or rental of a dwelling, it is sold or rented without advertising or the assistance of a person or entity that is in the business of selling or renting dwellings.

    the owner occupies and maintains one of no more than 4 rooms or units in dwellings containing living quarters occupied or intended for occupation by no more than 4 families living independently of each other.

    the housing owned by religious organizations and private clubs for other than commercial purposes limit occupancy to their members.

    Reasonable accommodations are modifications that are practical and feasible. The Fair Housing Act requires that owners and landlords provide reasonable accommodation (that is, a change in rules and policies) when necessary to permit an individual with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. It is the responsibility of the person with the disability to request any necessary reasonable accommodations necessary for tenancy.

    The Fair Housing Act recognizes that service animals are necessary for the individuals with disabilities who have them, and as such does not categorize service animals as "pets." Service animals, then, cannot be subjected to "pet rules" that may be applied by housing providers to companion (non service) animals. Housing providers cannot, for example, impose upon service animals the size or weight restrictions of a pet rule, exclusions from areas where people are generally welcome, or access restrictions to only a particular door or elevator. Further, special tags, equipment, "certification" or special identification of service animals cannot be required.

    If an individual feels he or she is being discriminated against because of a disability, and efforts to resolve the matter through discussion with housing management fail, a complaint may be filed with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) within one year of the alleged discriminatory conduct. HUD provides complaint forms and instructions for filing a complaint.





    Source(s): Service dog owner.
  • 9 years ago

    The ADA does not apply unless a local or state government owns the housing.

    The FHAA applies to most types of housing, but there are exceptions, especially if the housing is owned by a church or if the landlord has fewer than 4 units.

    There is no site to tell you that once the doctor's note is received, denial is unlawful because there are always exceptions. You are requesting a reasonable accommodation in the form of a change in their policies, that request might or might not be reasonable. So there can be no absolute, black and white statement that they must always be permitted.

    The first question is whether this is a service dog that is trained to do something a disabled member of the family cannot do for themselves or whether it is an emotional support animal for a member of the family that is disabled by severe mental illness. The processes for these two cases are very similar, but a little different in some respects.

    The landlord can require proof of disability, in the form of a letter from a doctor who is currently treating the family member. That letter need not state the specifics of the disability, but must list the things that person cannot do for themselves and how the animal is supposed to mitigate those things. For an ESA (emotional support animal) the letter needs to be from a mental health professional (psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist) and needs to state the animal is a necessary part of their treatment plan for the family member.

    A doctor's note in itself does not make the animal a service animal because the doctor is not a dog trainer and cannot evaluate the dog's training. A doctor's note IS sufficient for an ESA, since the ESA requires no special training beyond good pet manners. For a SD (service dog), the determining factor is whether the animal is trained to do something the person cannot do because of disability.

    There are no housing police to force compliance. Disability laws are enforced by courts. That means that if they refuse to rent to you, you still have to find some place else to live, BUT you can sue them for discrimination. If you go to court, the standards are much higher. You would need professional testimony about the disability and proof of training (for a service dog). It will also cost money to file and to hire an attorney, unless your state's human rights commission is willing to take your case.

    I am not often asked to advocate for a person with a service dog because the program that trained the dog will do that for their client. Some dogs are privately trained, or trained by the owner, but they rarely come to me asking for help with housing. The vast majority of my clients have ESAs, so that's how I've written out the instructions for dealing with this. Here's how:


    It includes step-by-step instructions, how to write the letters (with examples), and how to file a complaint. You can make the minor modifications needed for a service dog yourself if needed.

    Source(s): I'm a disability advocate.
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