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Do disabled tenants have the right to have a pet?

Some disabled individuals benefit from having service animals, which can be a problem for those who live in buildings with no-pet policies. If you need a service animal, you may have a right to keep or get a pet, even if your New York landlord does not want animals in the building. There are laws in place to protect the interests of you and others with specific needs.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from showing discrimination against tenants with disabilities. This means that it is likely your landlord may have to make an exception for those who need service animals. It is beneficial to know your rights and how you can secure reasonable accommodations to get the help and support you need. 

Proving your need for a service or assistance pet

There are different types of service animals. Some receive training to do specific tasks for their owners, such as retrieve items or lead the owner. A disabled person's need for these animals is constant, and they can go in public areas due to the importance of their service.

Assistance animals are slightly different in that they may not necessarily provide physical guidance, but they do important things for their owners. Examples of what assistance animals do include the following:

  • Helps owners deal with anxiety, depression and other mental disorders
  • Alert the owner of blood sugar changes or oncoming seizures
  • Communicate with the owner who cannot hear well
  • Help an owner deal with pain related to stress and other conditions 

A landlord may acknowledge a person's right to have a service animal, but may be reluctant to allow an assistance animal. In some cases, it may be necessary to prove your need for an animal to provide essential support. You can do this by securing important documentation from your doctors, therapists and other medical professionals about your needs and the benefits provided by the animal.

Protecting your rights

You may think there is nothing you can do or that you may have to move in order to have a service or assistance pet, but that may not be the case. If you believe your landlord is undermining your rights or refusing to allow a pet that you need for a medical reason, you may find it beneficial to seek legal guidance. A complete explanation of your rights as a tenant granted by the Fair Housing Act can help you fight for the accommodations you deserve.

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