Property Management and Service Animals

Rental and property management companies have a variety of different policies when it comes to pets. Some may require a deposit, while others have a strict no pet policy. Service animals are an exception to pet policies. Landlords and property managers should be up to date on federal, state, and local laws to avoid any confusion when it comes to service animals. Denali Property Management in New Jersey strives to provide clients with the highest level of service while protecting their investment. Take a quick look at our guide to managing service animals.

Service animal and his owner

Basic Guidelines for Service Animals and Landlords 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides basic guidelines for service animals and landlords. Some of these guidelines include:

  • A service animal is not considered a pet as it performs a medically necessary job. Therefore, the pet policy of the townhouse, condo, apartment, or other forms of housing does not apply. 
  • Landlords cannot require a pet deposit or charge a tenant with a service animal pet rent.
  • Service animals are allowed to go with their owner to establishments like restaurants and stores that typically do not allow pets. 
  • Landlords can request documentation from a healthcare provider that they are disabled and require the service animal, but landlords are not allowed to ask the specifics of the disability. 
  • Landlords can request vet records of the service animal.
  • Landlords can charge the tenant for any damage caused by the service animal. 

Denali Property Managers are available to answer any questions you may have about service animals and your property. 

Legal Protection for Tenants with Service Animals 

For people with disabilities, a service animal accommodation may be necessary for them to afford equal housing. Requesting reasonable accommodations, such as allowing a service animal on their property, allows those with disabilities to live their life without discrimination. There are certain laws and acts, such as the Fair Housing Act and the American Disabilities Act that protect the interests of the disabled individual. Lawmakers have also created further legislation for people with disabilities extending their accommodation requests to emotional support or companion animals. 

Tenant with her service animal resting inside
Service animal with vest

Service Animals Vs. Emotional Support/Companion Animals 

A service animal is a professionally trained animal that performs a job to help an individual with their disability. Examples of a service animal is a seeing-eye dog or an animal that detects seizures. Service animals are specifically trained and require certain certifications to perform their job. Companion or emotional support animals (ESA) have not been professionally trained to complete a specific task. The Americans with Disabilities Act does not extend the same opportunities that service animals have to ESAs. 

Landlord’s Responsibility 

The ADA may treat these two different types of animals differently, but the Fair Housing Act treats them similarly. If certain conditions are met, the property manager or landlord has to allow the ESA to be on the property with accommodations. For example, an ESA may be permitted to be in the condo, but not in the community pool or gym area, while a service animal is free to go everywhere with its owner. 

Service animal and his handler

Laws vary from state to state on the topic of service animals and the right of the tenant versus the right of the property owner. Denali Property Management stays up to date on legal issues such as this one. With our integrated technology, we can successfully manage your property by providing services to tenants such as online bill pay, maintenance requests, and more! Connect with us and keep your property profiting!

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