If you are a property manager and have a tenant that has a disability and depends on a service dog or companion animal, you are required, by federal laws that govern fair housing practices, to allow those animals to reside with that tenant.
Fair Housing Laws and Service Dogs
According to the Fair Housing Law, a disabled tenant is any individual that has a mental or physical impairment that results in significant impairment to the ability to actively engage in major life activities.
As a property manager, service dog rental laws inform you that you are required – by federal law – to prevent discrimination towards disabled tenants that reside within your rental(s).
Service animals are not considered to be “pets”, instead, they are working companions. In short, these companions are similar to medical devices and equipment that aid the disabled.
“Those who teach the most about humanity, aren’t always humans….” – Donald L. Hicks
If I Have a “No Pets” Policy, Do I Still Have to Allow Service Dogs?
Yes, the Fair Housing Act ensures that tenants are allowed to have their service animals even if you have a “no pets” policy in effect.
With the service dog rental laws in place, you are legally required to make accommodations for disabled tenants. This means that pets that provide direct assistance and/or emotional support for those with a disability may reside within your rental.
Can I Impose Pet Restrictions or Charge Fees?
No, pets that provide assistance to those with disabilities are not the same – in terms of legal classification – as regular pets; therefore, you may not place any pet restrictions upon them nor can you charge any type of pet fees for the service animals within your rental(s).
Can a Landlord ask for Proof of a Service Dog?
Currently, there are no official certification and/or training documents associated with service animals. You may request a letter issued by your tenants the doctor or professional therapist.
It should state that the animal is needed for your tenant’s assistance due to their physical or mental disability. The letter should confirm that a disability been established and that the animal is a necessary component to the treatment of that disability.
Are There Any Legal Exceptions Where I Can Deny A Service Dog in My Rental(s)?
Yes, currently there are two exceptions in place. The first is if you live in the unit and you or a member of your family has an allergy to the animal.
The second is if the animal has shown aggression towards any one.
In order for the second to apply, the specific animal must have shown aggression and it cannot be based on opinions regarding the breed or the size of the dog.
How Do I Find Out More About Renting to People with Service Animals?
If you would like more information on renting to those with service animals, you may contact HUD and governing offices that deal with the topics of disabilities and discrimination of the disabled. You may also Contact Us at Pioneer Property Management in Denver.