Landlords should allow service animals in their San Diego rental property because it’s a legal requirement.
While you can decide whether or not to offer a pet-friendly property or to prohibit pets altogether, that’s your decision.
When it comes to service animals, however, you don’t really get to decide whether you do or don’t want to allow them. You must allow them because if you don’t, you can be accused of violating a tenant’s rights. Fair housing laws as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act protect tents who require service animals.
San Diego Property Management: Pets and Service Animals
Many owners don’t want to open their rental properties to pets. They’re worried about the damage that can be caused and the liability that often comes with dogs and cats living in the rental home with the tenants.
That’s perfectly within your rights. However, service and support animals are not considered pets. The law considers them to be accommodations, and that means you cannot deny a service animal, companion animal, or emotional support animal.
- You also cannot charge a pet deposit for a service animal.
- You cannot charge a pet fee for a service animal.
- You cannot charge any pet rent for a service animal.
You cannot ask your San Diego property managers not to allow service animals. Our hands are tied when it comes to fair housing laws and anti-discrimination statutes. You cannot deny a tenant who is otherwise qualified for your home just because he or she is moving in with a support animal.
Understanding Service Animals and Support Animals
There’s a difference between service animals and emotional support animals.
A service animal has an actual job. These animals have been trained in specific functions, and they help people with disabilities to perform tasks that they wouldn’t be able to manage on their own. The most common service animal is a Seeing Eye Dog. These animals are certified and come with documentation.
Emotional support animals are a little different. They do not have specific jobs, but they provide psychological benefits and emotional support to people who have anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other kinds of disabilities.
Since emotional support animals are not certified, you are entitled to ask for documentation from a certified healthcare provider that states why the animal is needed and what it does to reduce the impact of the owner’s disability.
San Diego Rental Property Owners’ Rights
You cannot legally deny tenants with service or support animals, and you cannot collect pet fees, deposits, or rents. But, you can take some steps to protect yourself and your property.
Ask for the documentation if your tenant has an emotional support animal, and call the healthcare provider to verify who they are and that they sent the letter certifying the tenant’s need for a support animal. This can be part of your screening process.
You can also deduct any damages left by the animal from the tenant’s security deposit after they move out. Conduct an inspection during the course of the tenancy to make sure you don’t see any damage caused by the animal.
This is still a confusing areas of the law for many rental property owners and landlords. If you’re not sure about what the law requires in terms of service animals, contact us at Mercer Properties. We can protect you from liability and expensive legal mistakes. We can answer any San Diego property management questions you may have.