Do I Need to Allow Service Animals in My Rental Property?
When determining a pet policy for your rental property, it is important to consult a property management professional in your area of Saint George to make sure you follow any legal stipulations regarding service animals. It is important to remember that service animals fall under a variety of disability laws, and these laws pertain to different classifications of housing. There is not one law for all rentals or situations. Your property manager will have a better idea about all the specifics and stipulations of these disability laws and will know best how to get legal counsel for any questions that arise.
There are some general guidelines to keep in mind as a rental property owner or manager. You cannot charge a pet deposit or fee for a service animal. These animals are generally classified as guide dogs or animals trained to complete tasks for an owner with a disability. The owner of the animal will be liable for any damage to the property that is beyond normal wear and tear, such as chewing and stains. As a property manager, you may be able to charge a pet deposit for an emotional support animal. This depends on the prescription from the doctor as well as the type of animal, and local laws and ordinances. Emotional support animals assist those with a psychological or mental disability, providing a therapeutic effect. You are allowed to require documentation of the service animal, such as doctor’s orders or other certification.
You as a landlord or property manager are allowed to prohibit a service animal if it alters the services or standard of living provided for other tenants. For example, if a dog’s barking keeps neighbors up at night, you may refuse the dog, but the tenant may remain without the dog if he or she chooses to do so. You may also refuse the animal if it causes any harm or danger to others.
If a renter would like to be allowed to keep a service animal or emotional support animal, he or she would be wise to request reasonable accommodation before moving in so that agreement can be made on the terms of the service animal. It may be difficult for a renter to ask for specific accommodations. Mental illness often carries a stigma, and the renter does not have to disclose their exact condition. It is illegal to request to question the renter’s doctor, but in most cases, the landlord or property manager may request the prescription for the service animal.
You may find further information regarding the specific regulations that pertain to types of housing and specific situations by researching the following laws: The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Be sure to consult a property management company or lawyer before proceeding. What is found here cannot be taken as legal advice, just a general summary of guidelines regarding service animals in rental housing.