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Assistance Animals

Assistance animals play an important role in the lives of people with disabilities. The Federal Fair Housing Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, state, and local laws govern assistance animals in community associations. Assistance animals are categorized in three groups:

  • Service animals - Specifically trained to work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities.
  • Therapy animals - Provide psychological or physiological benefit to individuals or groups in a clinical environment.
  • Emotional support animals - Provide comfort for people with disabilities.

Communities must recognize the rights of individuals with disabilities to receive the assistance they need within their home and must comply with federal laws guaranteeing such rights. Please view CAI's Guide to Assistance Animals to learn the differences between them and the applicable federal/state laws.

State Statutes - Misrepresentation of Service Animals

In recent years, there has been a rise in incidences whereby a pet is misrepresented as a service animal in an effort to access Federal protections granted only to service animals. In response, many states passed laws making it a crime to fraudulently represent that a person has the right to be accompanied by a service animal or to fraudulently represent the pet is a registered service animal.

The states shaded blue below have misrepresentation of service animal statutes. Violations are usually a misdemeanor. There is no consensus in the community association legal community that these laws may be helpful for housing providers like community associations. Pennsylvania is the only state that specifically defines service animals within a community association.