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Housing Rights and Resources

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Humane Rescue Alliance

Renters’ Rights in the District of Columbia

The Humane Rescue Alliance helps animals by empowering people who love them. We connect people with the information and resources needed to help support their animals, while working to address the lack of accessible affordable pet care. 


Residents of Privately-Owned Housing

The following is general information and does not constitute legal advice and is not guaranteed to be correct, complete or up-to- date and is not assured to protect you from any liabilities or other legal exposures. To find out what your rights are, in your specific circumstances, or if you believe your rights are being violated, contact an attorney.

As a tenant in privately owned housing in D.C., you are allowed to live with a pet if 1) the lease does not prohibit pets and 2) the pet has not been deemed a nuisance or dangerous by the proper authorities. 

EXCEPTIONS: Even if your lease prohibits pets, you may have a right to live with a pet:

  • If you have a mental or physical impairment and need the pet as a service or assistance animal
  • If you live in certain locally assisted or federally assistedv housing accommodations for elderly persons or persons with disabilities
  • If, possibly, you have been living with your pet, in violation of the lease, with your landlord’s knowledge, for a sufficient amount of time. There may be other reasons why you can have a pet even though your lease prohibits it.

Read full documentation on renters' rights for residents of privately-owned housing in the District of Columbia.

 



Residents of Public Housing

If the DC Housing Authority is your landlord and you live in a property designated for seniors or residents with disabilities, you are permitted to own pets as long as:

  • The animal is a common household pet such as a dog, cat, bird, rodent, fish, or turtle and is otherwise a species that is legal to own in the District of Columbia,
  • No more than two pets live in the residence, with few exceptions,
  • The animal is not expected to weigh more than 40 pounds and 20 inches in height, if a dog
  • The resident complies with registration requirements, including:
    • Register the animal with the property manager
    • Provide up to date vaccine record
    • Provide proof of spay/neuter if the animal is older than 6 months
    • Pay a refundable pet ownership fee, as reflected in the DCHA Schedule of Maintenance Charges.
    • Abide by any applicable Pet Lease Addendum.


Housing not designated for the elderly or individuals with disabilities:

If the DC Housing Authority is your landlord and you do NOT live in a property designated for seniors or residents with disabilities, DC Housing Authority does not permit residents to have pets, unless the pet serves as a service or assistance animal (see information below).


Service and assistance animals:

If a resident of any DCHA property has or has had a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (such as walking, seeing, working, learning, washing, dressing, etc.), the resident may have a right to keep an animal as a service or assistance animal. Service and assistance animals are NOT subject to any breed or size restrictions. The resident must request a “reasonable accommodation,” in writing, from his or her housing manager that states how the requested accommodation would be helpful. The resident should also include a note from an appropriate professional, such as a doctor, teacher, therapist, or social worker verifying the need for the support animal. The impairment or disability does not need to be identified and the resident does not need to provide medical history. If DCHA denies the resident’s request, or if it does not make a prompt decision, the resident can file a Complaint, known as a “grievance,” with the DCHA Office of Fair Hearings. For assistance requesting a service or assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation, contact the Equal Rights Center: (202) 234-3062.

Read full documentation on renters' rights for residents of public housing in the District of Columbia.

Learn more about what defines service and assistance animals and your rights in public accomodations and housing.

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