Do I Need to Allow Emotional Support Dogs in my Rocklin Rental Home?
Your Rocklin rental has a “no pets” policy but what about emotional support animals – sometimes called service animals or assistance animals. Do you need to allow them?
The answer MOST of the time is YES. People with disabilities (both physical and mental) are a protected class under Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity and should be granted “reasonable accommodations.” An emotional support animal is a reasonable accommodation based on precedent set under Fair Housing. However, there are some important exceptions.
Does your Rocklin rental home fall under Fair Housing?
There are two situations in which rentals will NOT fall under Fair Housing. In these instances, you can use your discretion in deciding whether or not you want to rent to a tenant with an emotional support animal.
- You are the landlord of 1-3 single family rentals which you manage yourself without the help of a property manager.
- You own a duplex in which one unit is owner occupied.
Any other rental units DO fall under Fair Housing and qualified applicants per your screening policies who have an emotional support animal should be allowed. Not allowing them is considered discrimination under Fair Housing.
Can other animals besides dogs be considered assistance animals?
Yes. Fair Housing does not limit emotional support animals to just dogs. It can be cats, rabbits, fish, or pretty much any domesticated and legal animal.
In addition, there can be no limits to the weight, size or breed of an assistance animal under Fair Housing.
Does the animal need to be trained?
Assistance animals do not need to be trained or certified. If assistance animals become destructive, aggressive, or threatening to neighboring tenants, they can be asked to leave or denied housing.
Can I charge an extra “pet rent” or “pet deposit.”
No. Assistance animals are not considered pets under Fair Housing. However, owners can be held responsible for any damage their service animal creates. Just like any other kind of tenant damage, you can charge your tenant’s security deposit for repairs needed because of their assistance animal.
Can I ask for a note from the tenant’s Doctor?
Unlike public places, landlords and property managers can ask for a note which will state that the assistance animal is necessary. Keep in mind, it’s not only doctors that can issue the note. It’s any 3rd party person that has knowledge of the tenant’s needs including but not limited to nurses, service providers, and group leaders.
Why do we have Fair Housing?
If you are a landlord subject to Fair Housing, sometimes the rules can seem overwhelming. I think that it’s important to remember the goal of Fair Housing; to eliminate housing discrimination, promote economic opportunity, and achieve diverse, inclusive communities. As landlords, we have screening policies and community rules meant to keep our properties safe and our financial interests intact. As precedent is set and reasonable accommodations are requested, it’s important to review these rules to make sure we are not unintentionally excluding or discriminating against a protected class.
Do you have a Fair Housing or Property Management Question? Ask Allan: firstname.lastname@example.org
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