We work with a lot of owners who don’t allow pets in their rental properties. They would be terrified and mortified to find out there were animals in their homes. However, your rental pet policy does not apply to service animals. Ever since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) included service animals, you’ve been legally required to allow them. Today, we’re talking about how they are different from pets.
Requiring Documentation for Service Animals
Sometimes, the ADA is abused, and tenants feel like they can get the upper hand by trying to pass a pet as a service animal. If you find out there’s an animal in your property where you have a no-pet policy, talk to the tenant. If they tell you it’s a service animal, ask for a doctor’s note. This is a simple request. You aren’t permitted to ask about the nature of the tenant’s disability, but you can ask for a doctor’s note. If they cannot provide one, you can either ask them to move, or you can decide to accept the pet and ask for a pet deposit.
Providing Documentation for Service Animals
Should your tenants provide a doctor’s note, you need to immediately cease all communication with them about this matter. It is illegal to ask about their disability. You also cannot ask for a pet deposit or pet rent. If it’s truly a service animal, you cannot treat it like a pet.
The good news is, tenants are still responsible for any damage that the animal causes. You can use their security deposit if you find damage from the service animal after your tenant moves out.
It’s important to understand the difference between a pet and a service animal. You also need to understand emotional support animal housing laws. If you’re not sure what these things mean, please contact us at Results Property Management.