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Assistance Animals and Your Obligations as a Landlord

Today, we are going to talk about Assistance Animals. There are 3 types of Assistance Animals, namely: Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals, and Therapy Animals. 

The reason why we bring up this topic is that you can encounter tenants who will apply for your rental unit and will be bringing with them a Service Animal, Emotional Support Animal, or Therapy Animal. You may be wondering what are the differences between these animals and their roles as well as your obligations as a landlord. Should you accommodate these animals? 

On this topic, several questions arise: 

1. What is the difference between Service Animals, Therapy Animals, and Emotional Support Animals and what are your rights concerning these animals?

2. Are you allowed to charge extra rent and additional security deposit from a tenant who has a service animal? 

3. What are the only two questions you can ask a tenant who has a Service Animal?

4. What document can you ask from a tenant who has an Emotional Support Animal?

5. Should you allow a Therapy Animal in your unit? 

Let's talk about the first of these 5 questions. What is the difference between Service Animals, Therapy Animals, and Emotional Support Animals and what are your rights concerning these animals?

Types of Assistance Animals and Your Rights

  • Service Animals - Service Animals can either be a dog or a miniature horse. They are known as "seeing-eye dogs," "guide dogs," or hearing dogs." Service Animals are trained to help their disabled owners in a variety of ways. For example, a service dog can pull a wheelchair for its owner or remind him to take his medicine. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Service Animals are allowed to accompany their owners wherever they go and live with them even in "no pet" housing. As a landlord, you are required to accommodate Service Animals in your rental property. 
  • Emotional Support Animals -  These animals can be cats, dogs, guinea pigs, or a certain kind of bird. That all depends on what the animal owner needs as prescribed by his physician. An Emotional Support Animal assists its owner who has a psychiatric or mental condition which can be severe anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more. You as a landlord are obligated to allow the animal in your unit. 
  • Therapy Animals - Like Emotional Support Animals, Therapy Animals can be any animal - cats, dogs, rabbits, etc. It is a Therapy Animal's mere presence that provides emotional comfort or relief to the people around it. These animals are not required to have specific training and perform any special task. 

For the rest of this lesson, existing Landlord Prep students should log-in to the module entitled Between Tenants - Finding New Tenants & Advertising - Assistance Animals (i.e.seeing eye dogs).

Not a member yet? Join the Landlord Prep: Video E-Course and How-To Tutorials so you can access this section and get the complete DIY landlording course. This will help you stay knowledgeable and confident as a landlord.