The pet policy is a commonly debated issue between landlords and tenants. There are both pros and cons to allowing pets in rental properties, but pet policies don’t apply when it comes to service animals. It is important to understand the laws regarding service animals to ensure that you take the steps necessary to accommodate renters with service animals. Failure to do so can result in significant legal issues. 

The Differences between Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals, and Therapy Animals

The required steps a landlord must take will vary depending on the type of animal. A service animal is thoroughly trained to help an individual with a specific disability. There are breed restrictions in place for service animals and they are almost exclusively dogs. Service animals are not considered a pet under the law, so they are exempt from no pet policies. An emotional support animal is generally obtained to help with mental disabilities, like depression or PTSD. 

The main difference between emotional support animals and service animals is the level of training, as well as the breed requirements. Emotional support animals don’t require specific training, as their companionship is the beneficial component. A therapy animal is used to provide support to other people and likely is not providing support directly to the renter. 

Fair Housing Requirements

The Fair Housing Act prohibits denying accommodations for an individual based on a disability, like the need for a service animal. Landlords are not allowed to deny service animals to live on a property. They may require written verification that the service animal is needed, but they can’t ask any specifics about the disability. They may also request a copy of the service animal’s health records. Landlords may not require a pet deposit or fee for a service animal. 

In most situations, a landlord must also allow emotional support animals on the property. In rare cases, they may fight this, but that can be risky, as it may bring up legal issues. The Fair Housing Act generally allows emotional support animals in rental units, but not necessarily in common areas, such as the pool. They may not charge pet deposits or fees for emotional support animals. Therapy animals, however, are generally not covered under fair housing requirements. 

Understanding the laws can help you to avoid breaking them and causing significant legal issues. To learn more about how to accommodate renters that have service animals, contact us at the Keyrenter in Solutions today!