In property management, one often comes across diverse and unique challenges. One such challenge involves tenants with support animals.
There are around half a million service dogs in the United States. These support animals can range from service animals to emotional support animals.
As a property manager, understanding how to navigate this complex landscape is crucial. That way, you'll protect your property and follow support animal laws.
Service Animals vs. Support Animals
It's essential to differentiate between service animals and other support animals. Service animals are trained to help people with certain disabilities.
This could include guide dogs for those with visual impairments and hearing dogs for the deaf. There are also mobility assistance animals for those with physical disabilities.
Service animal's rights fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Property managers must allow tenants with service animals on their properties.
Support animals are sometimes called emotional support animals. These pets provide emotional comfort to their owners. Unlike service animals, these types aren't trained to perform specific tasks.
Support animals fall under different legal frameworks. This includes the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act.
Keeping in Mind Support Animal Laws
Support animal laws can vary depending on the type of property and its location. Under the FHA, property managers must make reasonable accommodations for tenants. This applies even in properties with no-pet policies.
The key here is "reasonable." Property managers should consider the impact of the support animal on other tenants and the property itself. For instance, if a support animal behaves dangerously, the manager can deny it.
Along with the FHA, property managers should also be aware of state and local laws.
Protecting Your Property
There's no denying you should accommodate tenants with support animals. Still, property managers must take measures to protect their property.
One way to do this is by having a pet policy. This should include guidelines for tenants with support animals. You should address pet deposits, damage caused by support animals, and tenant responsibilities.
Property inspections are another critical aspect. Regular inspections can help ensure that support animals aren't causing damage. Inspections must be done in a legal way.
Communication and Documentation for Tenants With Animals
Effective communication with tenants is essential. Property managers should have respectful discussions with tenants.
It's best to ask for documentation from a qualified healthcare professional. They can verify the need for an emotional support animal. Keep in mind that under the FHA, property managers cannot ask about the tenant's specific disability.
Document discussion but keep things confidential.
Support Animals Are Sometimes a Necessity
Now you can be prepared to accept tenants who need support animals. You still have a right to deny nuisance animals who risk tenant safety.
PMI Pikes Peak can help you navigate the task of managing tenants with support animals and more. We'll help you make the most out of each investment. That's why we're considered the number one property management company in the Colorado Springs, Colorado area.
You can benefit from our expertise when you schedule a PMI consultation today.