Renting or in Assisted Living, Know Your Rights to Pet Ownership

Code of Federal Regulations, 24 CFR Part 243

by: Jordan Klingler, Partner | McIntyre Law

Currently, approximately 16% of the United States’ population is over the age of 65. In the coming years, this percentage will increase dramatically. It is important as this group increases that the rights of elderly are protected. 

We all see how pets can improve our lives in many ways, and that has proven very true for the elderly population. As we age, we lose loved ones, or loved ones may become busy, leading many to turn to pets for companionship. Pets are also routinely used as service animals for a variety of illnesses, and many of the elderly population utilize and benefit greatly from their assistance.

We have seen in recent years that people, in general, are downsizing in their homes, and many have turned to renting due to an unstable market. In addition, as we age, many in the elderly population may turn to public housing because of a fixed income.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has put rules in place to protect the elderly from discrimination so that they may own and/or keep a common household pet or a service animal. Code of Federal Regulations, 24 CFR Part 243.

It is important for elderly residents to know that any housing project that serves the elderly and is subsidized or insured by HUD is required to allow pets. There are exceptions to this requirement, such as nursing homes, hospitals and intermediate care facilities. Housing developments may collect a pet deposit from the renter, but it cannot exceed $300; the initial deposit charged to tenant may not exceed $50, and $10 per month thereafter until the required deposit is met. 

It is also important to mention that while privately owned and/or insured assisted living centers may not be required to allow household pets, there are many that do. Pet-friendly assisted living centers can be found in communities through research online or by calling the facilities you are interested in.  There may be restrictions as to breed, size or number of animals. Many feel the benefits of having a pet promote better health, such as reduced stress, lower blood pressure, reduced loneliness and depression, and increased mental stimulation to name a few.

We all need to play our part in helping the elderly in our lives to know their rights in these situations. We can help ensure they find housing that allows pets, and/or service animals if needed, to increase their happiness and health.


OKC Pets Magazine and its companion website OkcPetsMagazine.com provide Oklahoma City pet owners with the perspectives of a bi-monthly magazine, the interactive, up-to-the-minute insights of a local news source, and the humane conscience and social media involvement of the Oklahoma City pet community. Only here will you find a one-step resource for local pet products, services and events as well as adoption and pet care information. All of it is sprinkled with lots of pictures of local pets!