It’s always a good idea to allow pets in your rental property because a large percentage of the population owns at least one pet. Therefore, if you don’t allow pets, you’re going to have a smaller tenant pool from which to choose, and you may face a longer vacancy. We always recommend you consider pets on a case by case basis and that you have a strong pet policy in place to protect yourself against property damage. However, you don’t have to allow pets. You do, however, have to allow service animals.
Service animals are not pets. They are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and they are actually accommodations that you need to provide to your tenants who may have a disability. Typically, service animals provide a specific task to their owners. For example, a person with a vision impairment would use a Seeing Eye dog. They come with documentation and paperwork that identifies them as service animals.
Support and Comfort Animals
There are also support animals or comfort animals, which some tenants need. These are not animals that have been trained in a specific task, like service animals. Instead, they provide emotional support and comfort to their owners. They don’t come with documentation, but these are not considered pets either. You cannot say no to a tenant who needs a support animal or a comfort animal.
Service and Support Animals – What You Can and Cannot Do
If a tenant needs a service animal or a support animal, you can ask for documentation from a healthcare provider. You can require that the tenants pay for any damage caused by the support animal or the service animal. However, you cannot charge a pet deposit or a pet fee. You cannot charge pet rent every month, and you cannot do any of the things you would normally do if you had a tenant moving in with a pet. These animals are legally protected, and so are the tenants who need them.
This can be a difficult area to navigate, especially if you don’t understand the law or have experience dealing with service and support animals. If you have any questions about how this pertains to New Orleans property management, please contact us at Latter & Blum Property Management.