West Covina landlords are certainly responsible for presenting reasonable accommodation for tenants with disabilities. This involves allowing emotional support to animals in rental properties. Unfortunately, certain landlords are unaware of their legal obligations or try to use many different ways to keep them off. This blog post touches on helpful guidelines for rental property owners about emotional support animals. We will also discuss here the undesirable consequences of not fulfilling the law.
Defining Emotional Support Animals
The first thing to take in and understand well is that emotional support animals are not the same as service animals. Service animals are first of all trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities, such as guiding them around obstacles or helping them with daily tasks. On the other hand, emotional support animals offer companionship and emotional comfort. They do not have any special training. They are not considered pets, so breed and size restrictions do not apply.
Emotional Support Animals and the Law
Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), landlords must offer reasonable accommodation for tenants with disabilities. This implies freely allowing emotional support animals in rental properties, even if your property is viewed as “pet-free.” Property owners are not permitted to charge additional pet deposits or higher rent if a tenant seeks to keep an emotional support animal on the property.
There are, certainly, some exceptions to this rule, take one example if the animal is a danger to other tenants or if it causes crucial damage to the property. Nevertheless, these exceptions are remarkably rare and should not be used as an excuse to dismiss a tenant’s request to have an emotional support animal.
Handling Tenant Requests for Emotional Support Animals
To qualify a tenant for an emotional support animal, you can mandate your tenant to provide a letter from a health professional. This letter generally notes clearly that the tenant has a mental or emotional disability, and the animal provides therapeutic benefits. But having said that, however, it is illegal for a property owner to ask a tenant to provide specific details or even documentation of their disability.
Rather, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) states that a property owner must determine whether to grant their tenant’s request for an emotional support animal solely on the recommendation of a health care professional.
Consequences for Not Following the Law
Let us suppose a West Covina property manager disagrees with a tenant’s request for an emotional support animal or tries to charge them additional fees. In this case, the tenant can file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD will investigate the complaint, and if they confirm that the property manager has violated the law, they can impose penalties. These can involve civil fines, damages to the tenant, and even a court order mandating the property manager to recognize and permit the emotional support animal on the property.
So as clearly discussed above, landlords need to understand their legal obligations regarding emotional support animals. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse and can provoke heavy penalties. If you have any questions about your pet policy, the Fair Housing Act, or emotional support animals, contact Real Property Management Fairmate. We can beneficially contribute to you navigating state and federal laws and keeping your rental property policies fully compliant with the law. Call us at 626-691-9749.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.