14 Apr 2021 • 2 min read
Renting to Tenants With Support Animals
In their lease arrangements, landlords generally and potentially should have pet policies. These include if animals are tolerated at all, how many animals are permitted, and limits on types. For example, you can accept dogs or cats, but you can opt to ban animals that are considered more "unusual," such as a pig. You have the grounds for eviction if the occupant breaks the terms of the lease clause. What happens, however, if the occupant claims that their pet is a service animal or serves as emotional support?
A service animal provides those with a disability practical help and real service. Think of a blind person who relies on a rigorously trained guide dog, for instance. Landlords should be mindful that no regulatory authority centralizes or reviews these certifications, however, and they can be obtained online.
Emotional support animals are harder to define. An emotional support animal may be any animal that provides emotional or physical support. These animals do not generally undergo training nor do they have to be certified in any way. Generally speaking, tenants with emotional assistance animals receive the same rights as physically disabled persons.
Landlords have the right to ask questions about an emotional support animal from applicants. While you should not reject a rental application because they own a service animal or tell a tenant that they cannot bring the animal into your rental, the right questions will provide guidance on how to best proceed.
Does the occupant have a disability, for example, and does the animal provide disability help? Without the need to go into specifics, a tenant may request legal documentation displaying the disability. Be sure you do your homework on what questions are and are not permissible so that your future lease terms can be changed accordingly should it be necessary.
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