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What Are California's Laws Regarding Service Animals Housing?

1. Can a Housing Provider Require Me to Disclose that I Have a Service Animal and Prove My Pet is a Service Animal?

  1. If you have a service animal (dog or miniature horse), there are more legal limits on what a Housing Provider can ask. If you are applying to rent, you generally don’t need to disclose that you have a service animal. However, depending on what the rental application asks about animals, you should seek legal advice about your specific situation. Legally, if you do disclose it or if the Housing Provider already knows you have an animal, the Housing Provider can only ask:

  2. Is the animal required because of your disability?

  3. What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?

  4. Your Housing Provider cannot require you to provide proof of training or certification, but the service animal must be under control of its handler.

  5. A Housing Provider can make sure that the person with the service animal is telling the truth through a signed document, like a lease.  In addition to potential eviction, misrepresenting an animal as a trained service animal is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or up to a $1000 fine. (Penal Code Section 365.7(a)).

2. Demonstrating Your Pet Is An Assistance Animal

You should provide your landlord with a letter from your doctor/therapist stating you have a disability and explaining how your pet is needed to help you cope with this disability and/or improves its symptoms. Attach a brief personal statement explaining to the landlord that you are asking for “a reasonable accommodation to keep your pet who functions as a support animal.”

3. Can my Housing Provider Charge Fees for my Service Animal?

No, your Housing Provider cannot charge pet rent or pet deposits because service animals are not considered pets. However, you may need to pay for damage caused by the assistance animal.

3. Can my Housing Provider Require Me to Follow State/Local Government Laws that Apply for All Animals?

Yes, your Housing Provider can require you to get your assistance animal licensed or vaccinated according to the state/local government laws that apply to all animals in the area where you live.

4. Can my Housing Provider Give Other Restrictions for My Assistance Animal?

“No pets” policies do not apply to assistance animals.

Generally, your Housing Provider cannot use weight and breed restrictions against your assistance animals. However, Housing Providers can sometimes find another legal way to restrict dogs based on breed. It may be helpful to seek legal advice about your specific situation.

5. Can a Housing Provider Deny Your Request for An Assistance Animal To Accompany You In Your Housing?

In some limited circumstances, a Housing Provider can legally deny your request to keep an assistance animal if the animal:

  1. is not needed because of your disability or your household member’s disability,

  2. poses a direct danger to other people or property,

  3. is not under the handler’s care or is not housebroken,

  4. costs too much money or is large administrative burden, or

  5. significantly changes the nature of the services that the Housing Provider or Homeowner’s Association provides.

6. What are my Options if I Believe a Housing Provider Is Discriminating Against Me For Having An Assistance Animal?

  1. File a housing discrimination complaint against the housing provider with the California Civil Rights Department. More information about this process is available at

  2. File a housing discrimination complaint against the housing provider with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. More information about this process is available at

  3. File a lawsuit in state or federal court against the Housing Provider.

7. Laws That Apply to All Assistance Animals

For more in-depth information, these are some laws that this resource is based on.

  1. Federal American with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title II and Title III,

  2. Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act and Federal Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

  3. California Disabled Person Act and California Fair Employment and Housing Act,


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