Question: I manage a 12-unit apartment complex with a strict no-pets policy. We understand that under federal and state fair housing law, we may need to make an exception to our no-pet policy for a disabled resident who requires a service animal as a reasonable accommodation. However, there is a resident at my apartment complex who has a visitor staying with her for a few weeks. The visitor has a dog that accompanies her everywhere and appears to be staying in the resident's apartment with her. When I asked the resident about the dog, she told me that her guest is disabled and that the dog is a service animal. Do I have to allow the visitor's service animal? If so, what sort of documentation can I request from the visitor?
Answer: Under the federal Fair Housing Act, you are required to allow a tenant's visitor to bring a service animal into the rental unit as a reasonable accommodation for the visitor's disability, assuming all other requirements of the act are met. The FHA extends not only to renters, but also to persons "associated" with the tenant. Therefore, a tenant's visitor is protected because that visitor is associated with the renter. Tenants are entitled to the full use and enjoyment of their housing, which includes having guests visit.