“I am getting a service animal and it’s a turkey.”
While this may seem silly or unrealistic, but the truth is this is a real story. As a landlord, what do you say? Do you know the laws around service animals? If you don’t, you should brush up because HUD doesn’t take service animals lightly. Let’s test your knowledge a bit.
When is an animal not a pet?
The answer is when an animal becomes a legally registered service animal. Property owners are no longer able to view the animal as a pet and therefore they are not able to refuse renting to a tenant with a service animal.
True or false? A tenant may only make a request for a service animal at the time of application. False! Per HUD, a tenant may at any time make a request for a service animal at your property. This could be th3e day they move in, a week after moving in, or even a year after moving in. You as the investment property owner are legally required to allow the service animal.
True or false? You may deny a service animal if the breed is on a restricted list. False. Breed restrictions are not legal as it pertains to service animals. Again, per HUD, you are required to allow the service animal to live in your rental property regardless of breed.
Service animal requests should be treated as reasonable accommodation requests. The three criteria to weigh before you approve or reject a service animal request are as follows:
- There must be a disability.
- The accommodation must be necessary to fully enjoy the property.
- The request must be reasonable.
While there is some grey area here, HUD has guidelines available to research if you’re interested in learning more.
The last final question to test your knowledge: Can you charge an additional deposit on a service animal?
The answer is no. Service animals are legally not pets and therefore landlords may not charge an additional fee or deposit to a tenant with a service animal. Nor can you increase the rent.
Be extremely cautious when it comes to service animals in your rental property and understand the laws in place to protect tenants with service animals. If you have questions, give us a call. 469-731-5200