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Houston Property Management Tips

The Landlord's Guide to Types of Service Dogs in Texas Disability Law

The Landlord's Guide to Types of Service Dogs in Texas Disability Law

How many owners would say they couldn't live without your pet?

There are cases where that gets more literal. Disabilities make it difficult to go through daily life without the help of a furry hero.

Read on to learn the types of service dogs or other assistance animals a landlord may encounter.

What Are the Different Types of Service Dogs?

A service dog has a special job. They're trained to assist those with disabilities in their day-to-day tasks.

Certain types of service dogs guide their owners through life. They include guide dogs for the blind and hearing dogs for the hearing impaired.

Others alert their handlers to dangers. These include diabetic alert dogs that warn of changes in blood sugar or seizure alert dogs for those with epilepsy.

Mobility dogs help their owners get around. They can open shelves, push wheelchairs, and retrieve items.

What Are Emotional Support Animals?

An emotional support dog or animal has no special training. Their companionship is enough.

They can prevent impulsive actions and reduce symptoms of mental disabilities such as:

  • PTSD
  • Anxiety
  • ADHD
  • OCD
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia

What's the Difference Between Service Dogs, Emotional Support Animals, and Pets?

Service and emotional support animals are both considered assistance animals.

A service dog is trained for a specific task. Only dogs or miniature horses can get the distinction.

An emotional support animal has no special training. They can be any species commonly found in homes, such as:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Small birds
  • Rabbits
  • Hamsters
  • Gerbils
  • Fish
  • Turtles

All animals that aren't assistance animals are considered pets.

What's a Landlord to Do?

Landlords may create a no-pets policy with restrictions on breed or size. They can charge a monthly deposit or fee.

That doesn't apply to assistance animals. Regulations such as the Fair Housing Law require allowing them in housing without any fees.

Get written proof from a healthcare professional to make sure the owner isn't trying to pass off their pet as a support animal. Service dogs don't require documentation, but you can ask what tasks they perform.

Texas disability laws give rights to both sides.

Landlords can deny animals if they threaten the safety of others. They also aren't liable for any damage it causes and can take that money out of the security deposit. Tenants can file a discrimination complaint if their landlord refuses to accommodate a reasonable request.

There are only two exceptions to these rules. One is owner-occupied buildings with less than four units and single-family homes. The other is buildings sold or rented through a broker where the owner or seller owns fewer than three homes

Once you know the laws, begin tenant screening. Interview the applicant like any other pet owner to see how they behave.

Who Can Make My Difficult Landlord Decisions For Me?

Landlords may see several types of service dogs such as guide dogs. They may also see emotional support animals. Knowing the rules about whether or not to allow them helps you find the best tenants without overstepping the law.

Do you need a team to help you with difficult decisions like allowing pets in rental properties? Do you want one with over 30 years of experience and the ability to improve the experience of owners and tenants? Contact Terra Residential Services today.