Morrisville landlords are in charge of providing reasonable accommodation for tenants with disabilities. This includes enabling and allowing emotional support animals in rental properties. Regrettably, many landlords are unaware of their legal obligations or try to figure out schemes to steer clear of them. This blog post will furnish various guidelines for rental property owners with emotional support animals. We will similarly talk about the repercussions of actually not complying with the law.
Defining Emotional Support Animals
The first thing to truly understand is that emotional support animals are not the same as service animals. Service animals are particularly trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities, namely guiding them around obstacles or helping them with daily tasks. On the other hand, emotional support animals give companionship and emotional comfort. They do not necessitate having any special training. They are not considered pets, so breed and size restrictions do not apply.
Emotional Support Animals and the Law
Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), landlords must grant reasonable accommodation for tenants with disabilities. This entails consenting to emotional support animals in rental properties, even if your property is identified as “pet-free.” Property owners are not permitted to charge additional pet deposits or higher rent if a tenant desires to keep an emotional support animal on the property.
There are various exceptions to this rule, for example, if the animal is a danger to other tenants or if it causes vital damage to the property. But, these exceptions are unusual and should not be used as an excuse to reject a tenant’s request to have an emotional support animal.
Handling Tenant Requests for Emotional Support Animals
To qualify a tenant for an emotional support animal, you can require your tenant to provide a letter from a health professional. This letter specifies that the tenant has a mental or emotional disability, and the animal provides therapeutic benefits. Although, however, it is illegal for a property owner to ask a tenant to provide specific details or even documentation of their disability.
On the contrary, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) states that a property owner must determine whether to grant their tenant’s request for an emotional support animal solely on the recommendation of a health care professional.
Consequences for Not Following the Law
But what if a Morrisville property manager prohibits a tenant’s request for an emotional support animal or tries to charge them additional fees? In this case, the tenant can file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD will investigate the complaint, and if they distinguish that the property manager has violated the law, they can impose penalties. These can certainly include civil fines, damages to the tenant, and even a court order requiring the property manager to admit the emotional support animal on the property.
This is exactly why landlords need to understand their legal obligations regarding emotional support animals. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse and can bring about grave penalties. If you have any questions related to your pet policy, the Fair Housing Act, or emotional support animals, contact Real Property Management Excellence. We can aid you to navigate state and federal laws and keep your rental property policies fully compliant with the law. Call us at 919-827-1107.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.