As a landlord, you have every right to decide whether or not you’re going to allow pets in your Long Beach investment property. You might have a strict no-pet policy in order to protect your property from the potential damage that animals can cause. However, service animals are not considered pets. Your tenants who require service animals have legal protections under the fair housing laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act. You need to be aware of the difference between service animals and pets so you don’t get into legal trouble.
What is a Service Animal?
Service animals are used by people with physical, mental or emotional disabilities to successfully live their lives. These animals have been trained to perform tasks and provide comfort or support. If your tenant needs a service animal, you are not permitted to deny the application or evict the tenant because of that requirement.
Emotional Support Animals
There has been an increasing demand for emotional support animals as well as service animals. Emotional support animals are different because they are not necessarily trained in specific tasks, as service animals are, but they do offer comfort to people who struggle with emotional problems or mental illness. People who need these animals are also protected under fair housing laws.
Deposits and Fees
Because service animals are not pets, you cannot charge a pet deposit, extra pet rent or pet fees. These are illegal and would be considered discriminatory. If there is any damage caused by the service animal, you are permitted to withhold money from the tenant’s security deposit to pay for that damage. Tenants are required to keep their service animals under control and they must still follow the terms of your lease agreement.
If you don’t allow a tenant to move in a service animal, you are risking a lawsuit and a lot of potential liability. Contact us at CMC Realty & Property Management in Long Beach if you need help making accommodations for tenants who need service animals.