Can Landlords Prohibit Animals?

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There are three main categories of animals: pets, emotional service animals, and service animals. Landlords do not have to permit pets in their apartment and can require a pet fee. Landlords must provide “reasonable accommodation” for emotional support animals, which usually involves allowing the animal and waiving a pet fee. Service animals (such as seeing eye dogs) are legally required by law.

Pets

The lease generally explains whether pets are allowed. If the lease is silent about pets, then the tenant can have pets. Landlords may charge a pet fee and may later disallow a pet, especially if it causes a nuisance or causes considerable damage.

Emotional Support Animals

The Fair Housing Act requires reasonable accommodations for mental or physical disabilities and handicaps. Upon a note from a licensed health professional outlining the DSM disorder stating that the animal is a vital part of the treatment, the landlord is required to permit the animal to accommodate the disability. The emotional support animal does not have to be a dog and does not have to have any training. Landlords must waive any pet policy for this tenant and cannot charge a pet fee for this animal, except where the owner is neglecting the animal or the animal is causing significant damage to the apartment. In such cases, the landlord must still seek a "reasonable accommodation" for the tenant. For example, if a young dog pees on the carpet frequently, the landlord may move that tenant to a unit without carpeting. The landlord does not have to allow the emotional support animal into communal areas, like a pool area or courtyard, so long as there is a way for the tenant to take care of the animal (e.g., a dog owner should have the ability to take their dog for walks). Depending on the management company, tenants may be able to obtain an ESA letter largely online for about $100-$300.

Service Animals

A service animal is an animal specifically trained to help tenants with disabilities. Recently, service animals are restricted to trained dogs. Service animals may go anywhere a person may go, landlords may not charge a pet deposit or pet fee, and the landlord may, in some instances, evict a tenant if the animal is causing a nuisance, posing a threat, or causing considerable damage to the apartment. A service animal is protected by all the provisions of the Fair Housing Act plus the requirements of the American Disabilities Act. For more information, see https://adata.org/publication/service-animals-booklet. Landlords can require written verification from the tenant’s health care provider that they are disabled but cannot ask for any specifics about the disability and they can require written verification from the tenant’s health care provider that the service animal is needed.

Denial of Rental Application

The application process gives a lot of leverage to landlords. Some landlords may not know the law or may defiantly refuse emotional support animals or service animals. They may refuse to waive fees for having those animals. A clever landlord may actively look for other reasons to deny a tenant in order to provide plausible deniability for refusing their animal. Reporting violations may take months or years for the government to respond, whereas the tenant will need to find an accommodating place for the animal in the meantime. For this reason, one effective approach for tenants to acquire a place is to not tell the landlord they have an ESA or service animal until after the lease is signed. Then, the tenant moves in with their animal.  The landlord still must provide reasonable accommodations, including waiver of any "no pet" and pet fee rules. Once the tenant is moved in, the landlord loses their leverage to (illegally) deny housing. If the landlord wishes to kick out the tenant for suddenly violating a "no pets" policy in the lease, they will fail because the rules about service animals and ESAs override anything written in the lease. Similarly, a landlord will not be able to claim that a tenant underpaid rent if the tenant fails to pay a pet fee for an ESA or service animal. To be clear, this approach only applies to official emotional support or service animals, not regular pets. Tenants who violate a pet policy for a non-disability based reason may be evicted.

New ESA Animals in the Middle of the Lease

Tenants may acquire an ESA animal in the middle of the lease. In such case, the landlord must abide by all regulations stated above, including waiving "no pet" rules and pet fees.  

Pets


The lease generally explains whether pets are allowed. If the lease is silent about pets, then the tenant can have pets. Landlords may charge a pet fee and may later disallow a pet, especially if it causes a nuisance or causes considerable damage.

Emotional Support Animals


The Fair Housing Act requires reasonable accommodations for mental or physical disabilities and handicaps. Upon a note from a licensed health professional outlining the DSM disorder stating that the animal is a vital part of the treatment, the landlord is required to permit the animal to accommodate the disability. The emotional support animal does not have to be a dog and does not have to have any training. Landlords must waive any pet policy for this tenant and cannot charge a pet fee for this animal, except where the owner is neglecting the animal or the animal is causing significant damage to the apartment. In such cases, the landlord must still seek a "reasonable accommodation" for the tenant. For example, if a young dog pees on the carpet frequently, the landlord may move that tenant to a unit without carpeting. The landlord does not have to allow the emotional support animal into communal areas, like a pool area or courtyard, so long as there is a way for the tenant to take care of the animal (e.g., a dog owner should have the ability to take their dog for walks). Depending on the management company, tenants may be able to obtain an ESA letter largely online for about $100-$300.

Service Animals


A service animal is an animal specifically trained to help tenants with disabilities. Recently, service animals are restricted to trained dogs. Service animals may go anywhere a person may go, landlords may not charge a pet deposit or pet fee, and the landlord may, in some instances, evict a tenant if the animal is causing a nuisance, posing a threat, or causing considerable damage to the apartment. A service animal is protected by all the provisions of the Fair Housing Act plus the requirements of the American Disabilities Act. For more information, see https://adata.org/publication/service-animals-booklet. Landlords can require written verification from the tenant’s health care provider that they are disabled but cannot ask for any specifics about the disability and they can require written verification from the tenant’s health care provider that the service animal is needed.

Denial of Rental Application


The application process gives a lot of leverage to landlords. Some landlords may not know the law or may defiantly refuse emotional support animals or service animals. They may refuse to waive fees for having those animals. A clever landlord may actively look for other reasons to deny a tenant in order to provide plausible deniability for refusing their animal. Reporting violations may take months or years for the government to respond, whereas the tenant will need to find an accommodating place for the animal in the meantime.

For this reason, one effective approach for tenants to acquire a place is to not tell the landlord they have an ESA or service animal until after the lease is signed. Then, the tenant moves in with their animal. The landlord still must provide reasonable accommodations, including waiver of any "no pet" and pet fee rules. Once the tenant is moved in, the landlord loses their leverage to (illegally) deny housing. If the landlord wishes to kick out the tenant for suddenly violating a "no pets" policy in the lease, they will fail because the rules about service animals and ESAs override anything written in the lease. Similarly, a landlord will not be able to claim that a tenant underpaid rent if the tenant fails to pay a pet fee for an ESA or service animal. To be clear, this approach only applies to official emotional support or service animals, not regular pets. Tenants who violate a pet policy for a non-disability based reason may be evicted.

New ESA Animals in the Middle of the Lease


Tenants may acquire an ESA animal in the middle of the lease. In such case, the landlord must abide by all regulations stated above, including waiving "no pet" rules and pet fees.


Last Update : November 16, 2018 UTC

Comments discussing Animal Ownership

10 months ago
0
votes

I was getting ready for my ESA and the property management set up a inspection of all units, I left out the cat litter box, they took a picture of the cat box on the sky the next thing I know, I violated the rental agreement, they gave me 3 a Days notice to get the "cat" off the premises I then gave them my ESA, letter along with request for housing accommodation, they flatly said my forms were not legal and prepared me a 19 page request for reasonable housing accomodations we went to an attorn

...read more
Renter in Monterey, CA, USA
Animal Ownership
12 months ago
0
votes

The landlord already has a medical pet form filled out by my doctor because of my seizures and other health concerns and my doctor said this is the only thing that has to be giving to the landlord. I've already went into 4 seizures and panic attacks because the landlord wants my pets shot records or we can't get on a year lease.
Renter in Salem, OR, USA
Animal Ownership
6 months ago
0
votes

Many unvaccinated dogs running around,Getting into garbage Keeping us up all night barking
Renter in Corbin, KY, USA
Animal Ownership
almost 2 years ago
0
votes

Every summer, we have a really bad roach problem. We tried every type of trap, we bought all the roach killer sprays, and even bug bombed the place once. We watched our friend's dog last week and that actually worked. He chased those things down all day and night. The lease says we can't have dogs, but because the roaches are the apartment's problem, isn't the landlord required to let us have the dog? Or, how do we get an emotional support dog?
Renter in Philadelphia, PA, USA
Animal Ownership
about 2 years ago
-1
votes

Pets with cost
Renter in Kinsman, OH, USA
Animal Ownership