Baton Rouge landlords are responsible for giving reasonable accommodation to tenants with disabilities. Part of this is consenting to allow emotional support animals in rental properties. But really, it’s unfortunate that most landlords are unaware of their legal obligations or try to figure out ways to avoid them. This blog post will present to you multiple valuable guidelines for rental property owners relating to emotional support animals. We will, on top of that, point out the repercussions of not taking care to comply with the law.
Defining Emotional Support Animals
The first thing to understand well is that emotional support animals are not the same as service animals. Service animals are more particularly trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities, for illustration guiding them around obstacles or helping them with daily tasks. On the other hand, emotional support animals yield companionship and emotional comfort. They do not need to have any special training. They are not considered pets, so breed and size restrictions do not apply.
Emotional Support Animals and the Law
Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), landlords must provide reasonable accommodation for tenants with disabilities. This incorporates giving the chance to allow emotional support animals in rental properties, even if your property is categorized as “pet-free.” Property owners should not charge additional pet deposits or higher rent if a tenant wills to keep an emotional support animal on the property.
There are very few exceptions to this rule, in particular, if the animal is a danger to other tenants or if it causes substantial damage to the property. Then again, these exceptions are rather rare and should not be used as an excuse to disapprove a tenant’s request to have an emotional support animal.
Handling Tenant Requests for Emotional Support Animals
To qualify a tenant for an emotional support animal, you can appeal to your tenant to provide a letter from a health professional. This letter characteristically spells out that the tenant has a mental or emotional disability, and the animal provides therapeutic benefits. Notwithstanding, however, it is illegal for a property owner to ask a tenant to provide specific details or even documentation of their disability.
Then again, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) states that a property owner must determine whether to grant their tenant’s request for an emotional support animal solely on the recommendation of a health care professional.
Consequences for Not Following the Law
Consider that a Baton Rouge property manager disapproves a tenant’s request for an emotional support animal or tries to charge them additional fees. That being so, the tenant can file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD will investigate the complaint, and if they see that the property manager has violated the law, they can impose penalties. These can count as civil fines, damages to the tenant, and even a court order charging the property manager to let the emotional support animal on the property.
As demonstrated, landlords need to understand their legal obligations regarding emotional support animals. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse and can lead to burdensome penalties. If you have any questions about your pet policy, the Fair Housing Act, or emotional support animals, contact Real Property Management Baton Rouge. We can be of assistance to you in navigating state and federal laws and keeping your rental property policies fully compliant with the law. Call us at 225-389-6860.
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.