Our topic today is pets and service animals. As a landlord or property manager, it’s important that you know the difference. If you are new at this, or you’re just starting out, the idea of service animals might confuse you, and we want to let you know what’s required.
When a tenant has a disability and needs to move a service animal into your property, you are required to allow that. This might make you nervous, but it’s not too hard to manage. When you allow pets into your property, you probably charge a pet fee. That’s perfectly legal. However, when a service animal moves into your property, you cannot charge any pet fees or pet deposits with that animal. It’s not a pet.
Most people think of dogs when they think of service animals, and they are certainly the most common types we see. However, service animals can be any kind of animal. We have heard of miniature ponies, monkeys, cats and even lambs being used to help people. Any service animal has to be allowed in the property.
Another important thing you need to know is that you cannot ask a tenant why he or she needs a service animal, and you cannot question the nature of their disabilities. People with disabilities are considered a special and protected class. You cannot infringe on their rights by asking detailed questions about their disability. If you’re not sure that a service animal is absolutely required, you can request documentation from the tenant’s doctor.
We can help you understand any documentation that you receive regarding a tenant’s need for a service animal. If you have questions about this, or you’re not sure how to proceed with a potential tenant who has a disability, please contact us at Reliable Realty Property Management. We are experienced with both pets and service animals, and we’ll be able to answer any questions you have.