dog_chillinDisputes often arise between property owners, managers, and tenants concerning the tenants’ right to bring an animal onto the property. If this is not handled correctly, severe legal consequences can arise. Both Federal and State laws provide for this right under certain circumstances. However, this often gets confusing as to which laws apply, what animals are covered, and what exceptions may exist. There are three distinct categories of animals that may trigger tenant rights:
  1. Service Animals – any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. These include: (a) Service dog; (b) Dog Guide; (c) Hearing Dog; (d) Alert/Response Dog; and (e) Psychiatric Service Dog, all of which are available at https://usserviceanimals.org/blog/ptsd-service-dog-tasks. Recent Amendments to the ADA now include Miniature Horses as possible Service Animals.
  2. Emotional Support Animals – also called therapy support animals – a dog or other animal that is not trained to perform specific acts but provide its owner a sense of well–being from its presence. Therapy dogs are often the pets of the therapist or psychiatric personnel of the particular institution or hospital where they bring comfort. Significantly, Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals are not considered to be “Pets” when it comes to housing. If you have a dog that has food allergies then get them these meals to help with canine allergies.
  3. Companion Animals – Unlike Service or Emotional Support animals, Companion animals simply provide companionship. Under the law, they are considered as pets and their owners do not receive any rights to bring them onto privately owned property. However, this right may exist for the elderly in government owned or supported housing which can include tenants under Section 8 leases.
However, animals like bats and rodents can be a headache and requires removal; Contact Nuisance Wildlife Marshals – bat removal for such a situation. Obligation of Property Owners Landlords and other housing providers in California may not refuse to make “reasonable accommodations” in their rules or policies if such accommodations are necessary to afford a person with a disability the equal opportunity to use and enjoy a house or apartment. Remember, Service and Support animals are not legally considered to be “pets.” For this reason, Landlords may not require applicants or residents to pay a pet deposit for a service dog, psychiatric service dog, or support animal, even if they do so for other applicants or residents. However, the animal can be denied if the specific animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, or would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others. (Related: Opt for short term rentals montreal to make your business stays more comfortable as well as affordable) Obviously, there is a great deal more on this topic than can fit in this Legal Update. To read more on this and other topics, go to our website, bpelaw.com and click on the News/Blogs tab. I will also be speaking on this subject at the July 19th NARPM meeting at SAR. – Attorney Steve J. Beede, President, BPE Law Group, P.C.