Home Buying/Selling Specialist

Service Animals / Emotional Support Animals – What You Need to Know

If you have rental properties and you manage them yourself, you need to know the laws on service and emotional support animals. If you use a property manager, make sure they are up on the laws, as well.

At a recent local Landlord Association meeting, the discussion was on which animals we are required to allow with no pet deposit and no pet rent. There are many online sites where pet owners can get documentation stating that their “pet” is actually a service or emotional support animal. It was agreed that this is becoming more common, often as a way to get pets in without needing to pay additionally for the pet.

Turns out there are 2 agencies that create regulation regarding these animals:

  1. The Americans with Disabilities Act
  2. The Fair Housing Act (FHA)

Americans with Disabilities Act – The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. This law makes sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

Examples of public accommodations include privately-owned, leased or operated facilities like hotels, restaurants, retail merchants, doctor’s offices, golf courses, and so on.

As a landlord, if you have public areas such as a leasing office or a pool that is open to the public, you must allow service animals into that public space.

According to the ADA:

  • Only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA. (Be sure to read below about the miniature house provision!)
  • A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.
  • Generally, entities must permit service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas where members of the public are allowed to go.

** Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.

Service animals are working animals, not pets.**

The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

Some State and local laws define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the State attorney general’s office.

But that’s not all!

The Department’s revised ADA regulations have a new, separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. (Miniature horses generally range in height from 24 inches to 34 inches measured to the shoulders and generally weigh between 70 and 100 pounds.)

There are 4 assessment factors to assist in determining whether miniature horses can be accommodated in your facility:

  1. Is the miniature horse housebroken?
  2. Is the miniature horse under the owner’s control?
  3. Can your facility accommodate the miniature horse’s type, size, and weight?
  4. Will the miniature horse’s presence compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation of your facility?

Do you want a horse (no matter how “miniature”) living in your rental? You may legally have no choice…

Under the ADA, emotional support animals are not recognized as doing work or tasks for their owners. Therefore, they do not qualify as service animals and are not protected under the ADA.

Another important issue covered in the ADA is what you may and may not ask for or require from owners of service animals. In fact, there are only 2 questions you may ask:

  1. Is this a service animal that is required because of a disability?
  2. What work or tasks has the animal been trained to perform?

You cannot ask for proof of training and you cannot ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability.

As a landlord, you are required to accept these service animals and you may not collect a pet deposit or pet rent for a service animal. After all, they are not a “pet”.

Here are the only instances where you may deny or evict a service animal:

  1. the animal is out of control and the owner is not able to control it
  2. the animal is not housebroken
  3. the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others

In my next blog, we will look at similarities and differences with the Fair Housing Act.

Do you have service animals living in your properties? Did you know the laws?

Karen Rittenhouse | www.JKKPropertyInvestors.com | 336-834-0614 | karen@karensperspective.com
Comment balloon 1 commentKaren Rittenhouse • September 21 2018 02:12AM
Service Animals / Emotional Support Animals – What You Need to Know
share
If you have rental properties and you manage them yourself, you need to know the laws on service and emotional support animals. If you use a property manager, make sure they are up on the laws, as well. At a recent local Landlord Association meeting… more
What if the Seller Owes More Than You Can Offer?
share
In 2008-2010, lending stopped. Interest rates were variable and, as they rose, borrowers who had been told to simply refinance when payments got too high, couldn’t. Foreclosures began to mount. People simply couldn’t afford their house payments any… more
15 Tips for Negotiating Your Purchase Price
share
15 Tips for Negotiating Your Purchase Price When sitting in front of a seller, negotiating a purchase price that is acceptable to both of you can take time and be a bit intimidating for both parties. Here are some of the things we use that make the… more
What’s So Hard About Wholesaling?
share
And if you're a real estate agent, how do you work with wholesalers? Probably the number one way is to call them when you go to list a property and it's too trashed to list. Many sellers don't have the funds to fix up their property but a wholesaler… more
Why Should a Seller Work With You?
share
With so much competition, what makes a motivated seller want to deal with you and not someone else? Figure it out and make it happen! (1) Communication – It’s vitally important to be a good communicator. To be a good communicator, you must be a good… more
Is Wholesaling Legal in Your State?
share
I get this question a lot. I believe the question comes from confusing wholesaling with assignments, 2 very different types of transactions. Wholesaling is a normal selling transaction and, therefore, should be perfectly legal in all states. Simply… more
If I Were to Start My Real Estate Investing Over Again Today
share
If I were to start my real estate investing over again today, knowing what I know now, what I would do differently is: (in no particular order of importance) Accept how difficult it was going to be. I’d never owned a business before. We knew this… more
My Mid-life Career Change to Real Estate
share
Forbes. com posted an article where I was interviewed about my mid-life (late life? ) career change to real estate. I met Caroline Ceniza-Levine at an International Franchise Expo in New York City recently and she became interested in what I was… more
10 Common Real Estate Investing Starting-out Mistakes
share
Interested in real estate investing? Or, perhaps you're already an investor and wondering why you're struggling? Following are 10 Common Real Estate Investing Starting-out Mistakes: Failing to learn the basics. When starting anything new,… more
Wholesale Investment Properties Available!
share
Do you have investors looking for properties? We have wholesale properties looking for investors! Check out our site today and give us a call! www. JKKPropertyInvestors. com And be sure to sign up for our email list to be the first to know… more