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Your Rights as a Renter with a Service Animal

Disabled St. George Renter in Wheelchair with Service DogIf you are a St. George renter and have a service or emotional support animal, knowing your rights is important. Countless renters are unacquainted with the fact that they can keep a service or emotional support animal in their rental homes, regardless of the property owner’s rules. This blog post will talk about the laws that protect renters who have service or emotional support animals. We will also deliver tips on communicating with your property owner if there is an issue with keeping your service or emotional support animal in your home.

What is a service or emotional support animal, and what rights do you have under the law?

Service animals are defined as animals trained to perform tasks for persons with disabilities. These duties can include but are not limited to guiding people who are blind, informing people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, notifying and supporting a person who is having a seizure, or soothing a person with post-traumatic stress disorder.

An emotional support animal does not have to be trained to perform a specific service to provide benefits to its owners. Various companion animals can qualify as emotional support animals if you provide a letter from your medical provider or therapist saying that you need the animal.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are acceptable in public places, including rental homes. Emotional support animals are not protected under the ADA but are allowed in rental homes, even if a landlord has a “no pet” policy. Service and emotional support animals are not classified as pets under the law, and therefore, property owners cannot charge pet fees or deposits for them.

How to handle deposits, fees, and other costs associated with having a service or emotional support animal.

If you own a service or emotional support animal, you are not obliged to pay any pet fees or deposits. Yet, you may be in charge of damages caused by your animal. Let’s say if your animal chews on furniture or urinates on the flooring, or if you forget to clean up the animal’s waste, you will undoubtedly be charged for those repairs. It is best to have a conversation with your property owner about your service or emotional support animal before signing a lease. This can help lessen misunderstandings about your rights and responsibilities as a renter.

Some landlords may ask that you show proof of insurance for your service or emotional support animal. This is not mandated by law, but it is something you should be prepared to tackle with your St. George property manager.

What to do if your landlord tries to evict you for having a service or emotional support animal.

Assume your landlord has taken the opportunity to evict you (or refuses to rent to you) for having a service or emotional support animal. For that reason, you may have grounds to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The department’s Civil Rights Division enforces the Fair Housing Act, which forbids discrimination in housing based on disability.

You can also file a complaint with your state’s attorney general’s office or the human rights commission. These agencies may evaluate your complaint and take legal action against your landlord if they find that you’ve been discriminated against.

If you are facing eviction because of your service or emotional support animal, it is advisable to seek legal help as early as possible. An experienced attorney can help you comprehend your rights and options under the law.

Resources for further information on renters’ rights and service or emotional support animals.

For more information on your rights as a renter, you can contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD enforces the Fair Housing Act and can investigate complaints of discrimination in housing.

You can also get additional information on service and emotional support animals at the ADA National Network website. The ADA National Network is a tool to obtain information and technical emotional support on the Americans with Disabilities Act.

 

You and your service or emotional support animal may live a happy life in your rental home by being aware of your rights. But if your landlord is standing in the way of your privileges, it might be time to move to a location managed by professionals who appreciate and follow the law. Browse our listings for service animal-friendly rental homes in your area.

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.