The subject of animals in rental units is often a topic for disagreements between the landlord and the tenant. There is the common conception that pets can cause additional damage to a rental property, beyond what humans can do. From a landlord’s point of view, denying residence might seem a fair and valid decision. However, there is a lot of misunderstanding about whether or not a pet can damage your property and how you can prevent it. Furthermore, landlords are also prohibited against discriminating tenants with disabilities when they come with a request for accommodating assisted animals.

Here is what you need to know about Service Animals

Rather than to face the wrath of the law, landlords will benefit by understanding more about service animals, and what rules you are required to follow.

Know the Difference Between Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals  

As per the Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals are defined as dogs or miniature horses that are trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities. They require specialized training specific to help the owner and require licensing as well. As they play a significant role in the owner’s life, they are also entitled to the most rights. On the other hand, an emotional support animal Colorado law recognizes is any animal that can contribute to an individual’s emotional or mental well-being. Unlike service animals, ESAs do not need a license. Still, instead, the individual needs a letter from a licensed therapist recommending the animal’s presence to help them relieve their symptoms of the disability. Therapy animals are the third category, trained to provide support to people other than their handler.



Laws Allowing Assistance Animals In Rental Properties 

Both service and emotional support animals are protected under the Fair Housing Act, that applies specifically to landlords. This law prohibits discrimination based on disabilities and requires the building owners to provide reasonable accommodations for the tenants. As a result, even if you have a “no pet policy” implemented, if the requested animal is identified as a service animal or ESA, you are obliged to accept their application.

Here is what you need to know about Service Animals - guide dog

How To Verify The Legitimacy Of The Request 

To no surprise, there are people who exploit the benefits that come with assistance animals. As these animals are not categorized as pets, you might not find this information while running a background check. This often puts landlords in a difficult position to verify the requests.

However, you can check the following before granting accommodation.

  • Whether the tenant has a recognized disability
  • Whether the disabled tenant requires the animal to equally access and enjoy the dwelling
  • Whether the animal would cause any undue financial burden on the landlord
  • Is there any chance for the animal request to pose a threat to the property or other tenants. 

If the request is made by someone with no apparent disabilities, you can ask them to submit reliable documentation, but not the medical records. You should also obtain relevant certification or letters concerning the animal and objectively assess them. If the conditions outlined above are verified, the landlord must provide reasonable accommodation and allow the animal on the property. The rules might also vary depending on the state and territory. For instance, in some states, the animals are permitted in rental units but not in communal spaces. The best approach for landlords is to educate themselves about the regulations and responsibilities. With a thorough screening process, you can identify those who are in real need and protect yourself against any claims of discrimination.