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CAI Calls for Clarity on Assistance Animals in New Public Policy

11/7/2019  -  Falls Church, Virginia

​​​Community Associations Institute (CAI) adopted a new public policy, Assistance Animals and Pets in Community Associations, that seeks to harmonize the rights of individuals with disabilities who benefit from assistance animals with the need for  community associations (commonly referred to as homeowners associations or HOAs, condominiums, and housing cooperatives) to adopt rules pertaining to assistance animals.

“With more than 73 million Americans living in community associations, it is important for residents and the board members who govern these communities recognize the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal," says Dawn M. Bauman, CAE, CAI's senior vice president of government and public affairs. “As condominiums and HOAs nationwide continue to see an increase in accommodation requests for assistance animals, community associations, their residents, and individuals with disabilities need to be protected."

Community associations are required by the federal Fair Housing Act to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities who request an assistance animal. Any animal that provides emotional or physical benefits to an individual can be an assistance animal. There is no training requirement. The FHA is enforced by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal law, applies to community associations that have places of public accommodations, such as golf courses, swimming pools (used by the general public), and restaurants. The ADA regulates service animals, which are only dogs or miniature horses that have been specifically trained to work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities.

CAI's new public policy recommendations include:

    • CAI supports the right of community associations to request reliable documentation when a resident's disability is not readily apparent or, if the disability is readily apparent or known but the disability-related need for the assistance animal is not, the association should ask the resident to provide the same reliable documentation.
    • CAI supports clarification of Federal law and regulations which further defines a housing provider's ability to request documentation.
    • CAI opposes duplicative legislation at the state level which redefines an association's ability to request documentation already allowed under th​e Fair Housing Act or legislation which inhibits an association's ability to request this documentation. 

For additional information, read CAI's Guide to Assistance Animals and HUD's 2013 guidance on reasonable accommodation for assistance animals. CAI also urges HUD to provide additional guidance for community association boards handling requests for emotional support animals.

About Community Associations Institute 
Since 1973, Community Associations Institute (CAI) has been the leading provider of resources and information for homeowners, volunteer board leaders, professional managers, and business professionals in the nearly 350,000 homeowners associations, condominiums, and housing cooperatives in the United States and millions of communities worldwide. With more than 43,000 members, CAI works in partnership with 36 legislative action committees and 64 affiliated chapters within the U.S., Canada, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates as well as with housing leaders in several other countries, including Australia, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom. A global nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization, CAI is the foremost authority in community association management, governance, education, and advocacy. Our mission is to inspire professionalism, effective leadership, and responsible citizenship—ideals reflected in community associations that are preferred places to call home. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter and Facebook @caisocial. ​​

Phone: 703-970-9235