There were almost 200,000 emotional support animals in the United States in 2019. But what happens if you, as the landlord, don't want them in the lease agreement?
Support animals are typically prescribed by overseeing physicians who specialize in mental health. For example, prescribing an anxious patient with an emotional support animal may give the patient something to focus on.
But allowing pets in your rental agreement may be something you're still on the fence about, so how do you navigate this tricky subject? Keep reading as we discuss the pros and cons of leasing your property to someone with an emotional support animal.
What Is a Support Animal?
First questions first: are service animals the same as emotional support animals? The quick answer is no for several reasons.
There are a few key differences when looking at a support animal vs. a service animal. First, service animals, typically dogs, are professionally trained to assist disabled people.
These dogs usually take up to two years to become fully trained. Although, this also depends on the training intensity and duration and may differ between dogs.
Support animals are pets that provide therapeutic support to people suffering from conditions like:
Service dogs will also wear a vest that denotes them as working service animals. This means people shouldn't interact with the dog while it's working.
Additionally, emotional support animals don't have as many allowances as service animals. For example, they can be restricted from public areas such as shops and flights.
Can You Discriminate Against Someone With a Support Animal?
It is not legal to discriminate against people with emotional support or service animals in the United States, and laws protect them from discrimination.
In addition, service and emotional support animals are not pets. So landlords cannot charge a pet deposit or rent because it's a working service animal.
If your rental agreement has a "no pets" pet clause, it can't apply to support animals. You also cannot specify breed criteria, either.
The Pros of Allowing Support Animals
Renting to people with support animals can benefit you as the homeowner and landlord. One of the primary positives is how much it opens up your pool of renters to include people with disabilities.
Furthermore, allowing pets means that your tenant will remain supported, which means they're more likely to be a good tenant.
The Cons of Allowing Support Animals
Understandably, some homeowners may not want pets in their rental property. For example, there might be a concern that any wood flooring may get damaged or that there may be destruction to the property caused by the service animal. However, this is unfounded as service dogs are typically well-trained.
Additionally, certain dog breeds may affect your insurance premiums, particularly if the breed exceeds a certain weight or size.
Get More Rentals in Orlando, FL Today
The bottom line regarding support animals is that you cannot discriminate against them, which includes increasing the rent to accommodate the allowance of a service dog.
With more disabled people having access to service dogs, it's wise to know the legalities to know your rights as a homeowner and landlord.
If you're renting your property and would like to enlist the help of our property management services, get in touch with us today about our services in Orlando, Florida.