Federal regulations allow public housing tenants to own common pets, subject to reasonable restrictions.
Does public housing have to allow pets?
Yes. Public housing authorities must allow common household pets. However, public housing can create reasonable policies to limit pet ownership. For example, they may limit animal size and the number of pets one may have based on available space.
Residents can ask for a copy of the pet policy, if any.
What types of pets are allowed?
Common household pets are allowed. Federal regulations do not say what counts as a common pet in general public housing, but you can expect it to include dogs, cats, birds, and others.
For elderly and disabled public housing, which have their own regulations, common household pets include:
- rodents (including rabbits)
- turtles (but not snakes, lizards, or other reptiles)
If state or local rules ban certain animals as pets, those rules apply.
Can public housing ban an entire dog breed for being dangerous?
No. In Texas, public housing cannot ban entire breeds as dangerous. As of May 2023, state law prohibits this.
Dogs are designated as dangerous on an individual basis. To be considered dangerous, a dog must do one of the following, unprovoked and outside of a secured area:
- Injure someone.
- Act in a way that causes a reasonable belief that the dog will injure someone.
Can public housing ban dogs based on size?
Probably. If the ban is based on the size of an animal and the available space, not due to the animal belonging to a “dangerous” breed, the ban may be a reasonable, permitted restriction.
My dog is dangerous, but I keep it in a secure area. Can public housing remove my dog?
It depends. Public housing must follow state and local rules that govern dangerous dogs. At a minimum, state law requires the owner to do the following within 30 days of learning a dog is dangerous:
- Register the dog as dangerous with animal control.
- Make sure the dog is always on a leash or in a secure area.
- Show animal control proof of $100,000 in liability insurance.
Cities and counties may impose additional rules. If your locality allows bans on dangerous dogs, your housing authority may include such a ban in its pet policy. Otherwise, if you follow all applicable rules, and if local rules allow it, you should be able to keep your dog in public housing. Failure to follow the rules may result in animal control destroying the animal. You may also be criminally liable for any injuries your pet inflicts.
Can public housing charge a pet deposit?
Yes. Public housing facilities can charge a non-refundable pet fee as well as a refundable pet deposit.
Can public housing charge a deposit for an assistance animal?
No. Assistance animals are not pets and so are not subject to pet policies. No housing provider may ban or charge for assistance animals.
Can public housing require me to spay or neuter my pet?
Yes. Public housing pet policies can require all animals to be spayed or neutered.
Do I have to register my pet?
The pet policy can require you to register your pet. If the policy requires it, you must register your pet with facility management.
All public housing facilities for the elderly and disabled must register residents’ pets.
Can the housing authority tell me to remove my pet for being too loud?
Yes. The housing authority can tell you to remove your pet if it causes a nuisance or violates the housing authority’s pet policy.
In Texas, landlords can create their own rules about pets and put the rules in the lease.
This article provides general information about public housing in Texas.
This article explains the housing choice voucher program in Texas.