I received two related questions concerning assistance animals that I thought easier to answer in a blog post. In essence, readers asked if there can be any restrictions on where an assistance animal is permitted to go in an apartment community. As is so often in the law, the answer depends on if the animal is designated as a “service animal” or as an “emotional support animal.”

A “service animal” (think of a guide dog that is specifically trained to assist someone with a vision impairment) is permitted in all areas of an apartment home, community common areas, as well as places of public accommodation within the property (such as the leasing office).

An “emotional support animal” (think of an assistance animal that is not specifically trained to assist, for example, someone suffering from PTSD) is permitted in all areas of an apartment home and in the community common areas.

Now, I just had a case in which a fair housing tester asserted management discriminated against him because we would not permit an assistance animal in our community pool. The confusion (which I was able to clear up) was that the plaintiff claimed we prohibited assistance animals anywhere in our pool area. In fact, management welcomes assistance animals in our pool area (think of the pool deck) – but for obvious legitimate health and safety reasons, we do not permit any animals actually in the water.  Once I proved that to the satisfaction of the state agency, the complaint was dismissed.

Hope that helps.

Just A Thought.