Can Emotional Support Animals Stay In Hotels – When it comes to the subject of animals in rental units, landlords and tenants rarely agree. There is no doubt that animals, especially dogs and cats, can cause additional and unique damage to a rental property beyond what humans do.
An assistance animal is not a pet. This means that this is not information that should be discovered when screening tenants or conducting tenant background checks.
Can Emotional Support Animals Stay In Hotels
But what to do when an applicant or tenant claims there is a medical need for an animal? Many landlords don’t know much about service animals or the laws governing people’s rights to have animals in rental units under certain circumstances.
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Tenant requests for assistance animals are growing rapidly as more mental health studies show the benefits of animals for certain mental and physical ailments. To stay on top of this situation, landlords and property managers need to quickly learn about federal, state and local laws. There is no substitute for qualified legal advice from a landlord-tenant solicitor, but this guide will help you present your issues.
A good first step is to understand the difference between service animals, therapy animals, and emotional support animals (ESA).
That’s why we have Jaime Cane on our podcast talking about landlord rights when it comes to emotional support animals.
Below is that podcast where you can listen and learn the “push mechanics” for a landlord or property manager when it comes to ESAs.
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We’ve received a lot of feedback from landlords about tenants having emotional support animals. Anger occurs when they feel the following scenario has occurred.
The owner’s dilemma in emotional support animals. #PropertyPains # #ESA #renter @landlord pic.twitter.com/7aHWmEqxpf — (@) February 2, 2018
This is a common theme that comes up when an interested renter is looking to get around a pet-free policy and comes across a service like this.
This particular service doesn’t say, “Do you suffer from anxiety and need an emotional support letter for your animal?”
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No…instead it says we have a solution to avoid the no pets policy or high pet deposit. This is what frustrates landlords and why it’s important to listen to the podcast above and learn the reverse mechanics when you think someone has a suspicious ESA letter.
He manages over 500 single family homes and has extensive experience with tenants and ESAs.
Instead of learning the hard way and getting into trouble with the law for discrimination, learn about the different types of service animals and what conditions must exist before you allow them into your rental.
Reasonable accommodations are defined as when a tenant asks the landlord to change an existing rule or policy so that they have an equal opportunity to enjoy the unit and the surrounding area.
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There is a range of physical and mental ailments and there is only so much information you are entitled to get from a tenant. Of course, landlords cannot refuse to rent to tenants with special needs, nor can you ask applicants and tenants about the details of any conditions. Sometimes the disability is obvious, like a renter in a wheelchair, but often the person’s disability is not obvious to observers.
There are many laws that protect tenants with disabilities, and landlords must make reasonable accommodations for them to live in a rental property. Lawmakers have found that in most cases, service animals do not fall outside the definition of reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.
In April 2013, Housing and Urban Development clarified the conditions for service animals. Basically, the decision states that people with disabilities can request reasonable accommodations for any assistance animal, including emotional support animals. HUD divides service animals into two categories – service animals and support or companion animals. It also sets two conditions that, if the answer is yes, the landowner must allow a service animal.
Otherwise, you do not need to allow an assistance animal. If both are yes, exceptions must be made in most cases.
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Another important step for you when considering a tenant’s request for a service animal is to understand the two types of animals – service animals and companion animals. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a true service animal is a dog trained to assist an owner with a disability. Although miniature horses can be licensed service animals under certain special circumstances, dogs are generally the only animals that can legally be true service animals.
Service animals must provide a function that the owner cannot perform alone. Perhaps the best-known service animals are sight dogs or guide dogs, which help the blind get around. Other examples of service dogs include those for hearing-impaired owners who rely on dogs to alert them to sounds, dogs that pull wheelchairs or retrieve objects for owners in wheelchairs, and dogs trained to alert owners to impending health problems like seizures . or insulin imbalance.
The main factor that elevates a service animal to a pet is training and documentation. Professionals or their owners carefully train service animals to do their jobs. The owner of the service animal may have identification papers, and the animal usually wears some type of identification collar or harness (but not always). Service animals are generally trained, well behaved and take their “job” seriously.
Requirements for landlords to accommodate a service animal in a rental unit are specifically considered by the federal Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act as a reasonable accommodation for tenants with disabilities. In other words, courts view a tenant’s use of a service animal as an accommodation that must exist outside of the landlord’s no-pet policy. You need to be careful when challenging a tenant’s right to a service animal.
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In other words, you can ask for proper documentation about the tenant’s need for a service animal and to check the animal’s health.
Finally, for tenants with identified disabilities who require the assistance of an assistance animal, landlords must allow the assistance animal in the rental unit and provide reasonable accommodations for both the tenant and the animal.
An emotional support animal (ESA) or companion animal is one that helps people with mental disorders. Studies show that people with disorders such as anxiety, depression, autism or post-traumatic stress disorder can often alleviate symptoms with an emotional support animal. One of the main differences between a companion animal and an assistance animal is that there are no species or breed restrictions. In other words, the ESA can be a dog, cat, lizard, bird, monkey, ferret, snake, or other creature.
Another big difference between a service animal and a companion animal is that they do not need to be trained or undergo any physical
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Task. Their purpose is to provide companionship and comfort to the owner. ESAs do not require basic behavioral training to qualify. An essential part of a companion animal for a person with a disability is that there must be a significant identifiable relationship, known in legal terms as a nexus, between the tenant’s disability and the need for the companion animal. In other words, the health care professional and tenant must demonstrate a connection between what the pet provides and the person’s disability so that the animal can be considered more than just a pet that makes them happy.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, pets are not considered service animals, so they are generally not allowed in public places like restaurants like service animals. The Fair Housing Act allows companion animals in rental units, but not necessarily in common areas such as the pool or yard.
In short, the laws create a situation where the qualification standards are set relatively low for tenants to qualify for pets, and many landlords are frustrated by the restrictions placed by law them to be able to regulate animals on rental properties.
The federal Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act require landlords to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities, and companion animals qualify. Note that tenants must be eligible for a pet if they have a qualifying disability and they must demonstrate a connection.
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Many court cases involving landlords, tenants, and animals focus on companion animal laws, rules and regulations, not service animals. It is difficult for outsiders to distinguish between a companion animal and a pet. It is important to work closely with your attorney when it comes to tenant pet requests to ensure you are following federal, state, and municipal laws regarding reasonable accommodations.
The federal Fair Housing Rules treat service animals and companion animals much the same, and the laws and rules are the same for both. However, landlords often have more conflict when it comes to pets and service animals because there are so many differences between them.
Since service animals are limited to certain species, strictly trained and therefore better behaved, few landlords have a problem with them.
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