Dealing with service animals on your property is inevitable because a whopping 500,000 Americans have them.
For landlords, balancing tenant rights and property protection can be a tricky task. One area where this balance often comes into question is dealing with pets and assistance animals.
What should landlords know about these two categories? Read on for a service animal and pet guide.
Understanding Working Animals
Working animals include service dogs and other trained animals. They're indispensable to people with disabilities. These animals play a vital role in helping individuals with various disabilities to lead more independent lives.
Service dogs can do the following:
- Assist the blind
- Alert the deaf
- Support people with mental health struggles
Service Dog Laws
Service dogs are perhaps the most known type of working animal. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service dogs are protected by law. Landlords must be aware of the key points about service dogs.
Under the ADA, service dogs can't be considered pets. They're classified as working animals because they perform tasks for people with disabilities.
Landlords can't impose breed restrictions on service dogs. Regardless of the breed, if a dog is a trained service animal, it's protected under the law.
Landlords can't charge extra fees or deposits for service dogs. These animals are not considered pets, so the same rules don't apply.
Tenant rights are an essential consideration for landlords when it comes to pets and assistance animals. Understanding and respecting these rights is crucial for maintaining a harmonious professional relationship.
Tenants with assistance animals may be required to provide documentation of their disability and the necessity of the animal. Landlords shouldn't demand excessive or invasive information, though.
Open and respectful communication between landlords and tenants is vital. Discussing any concerns or specific needs related to assistance animals can help find mutually agreeable solutions.
Landlords have the option to allow pets in their rental properties, and this decision may vary from one property to another. If a landlord chooses to allow pets, it's essential to establish clear pet policies. They should outline rules, restrictions, and any associated fees or deposits.
Tenants with pets must be held responsible for their animals' behavior. This includes any damage caused by the pets or disturbances they may create.
Landlords may decide to impose breed restrictions on pets. However, these restrictions don't apply to service dogs under the ADA.
Protecting Your Property
Protecting your property is a valid concern for landlords. While assistance animals are protected by law, there are measures landlords can take to ensure their properties remain in good condition.
Landlords can collect security deposits from tenants with pets. You can use these deposits to cover any damages caused by the pets during the lease period.
Include clauses in lease agreements for pets. Outline the tenant's responsibilities for pet care and property maintenance.
Landlords Have to Understand Pets and Service Animals
In the realm of rental properties, landlords will encounter animals. This can include pets and service animals. Knowing these differences and how to accommodate your tenants will protect your business.
Dealing with tenants who have pets or service animals can be tricky. Do you want to make your rental property business easier? Contact Terra Residential Services to learn how our Houston property management services will help.