Eastpointe landlords take responsibility for giving reasonable accommodation to tenants with disabilities. This means accepting emotional support animals in rental properties. Sadly, several landlords are unaware of their legal obligations or try to use tactics to evade them. This blog post will supply different guidelines for rental property owners about emotional support animals. We will at the same time speak about the outcomes of not conforming to the law.
Defining Emotional Support Animals
The first thing to seriously understand is that emotional support animals are not the same as service animals. Service animals are specifically trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities, for instance, guiding them around obstacles or helping them with daily tasks. On the other hand, emotional support animals present companionship and emotional comfort. They do not demand 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 takes into account allowing emotional support animals in rental properties, even if your property is regarded as “pet-free.” Property owners are not authorized to charge additional pet deposits or higher rent if a tenant wants to keep an emotional support animal on the property.
There are some exceptions to this rule, for instance, if the animal is a danger to other tenants or if it causes essential damage to the property. Though, these exceptions are uncommon and should not be used as an excuse to refuse 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 require your tenant to provide a letter from a health professional. This letter typically states that the tenant has a mental or emotional disability, and the animal provides therapeutic benefits. Though, however, it is illegal for a property owner to ask a tenant to provide specific details or even documentation of their disability.
But instead, 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
But suppose an Eastpointe property manager deprives a tenant’s request for an emotional support animal or tries to charge them additional fees. Then, the tenant can file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD will investigate the complaint, and if they discover that the property manager has violated the law, they can impose penalties. These can surely include civil fines, damages to the tenant, and even a court order forcing the property manager to allow the emotional support animal on the property.
As you can very well see, landlords need to understand their legal obligations regarding emotional support animals. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse and can cause severe penalties. If you have any questions in connection with your pet policy, the Fair Housing Act, or emotional support animals, contact Real Property Management Metro Detroit. We can help you navigate state and federal laws and keep your rental property policies fully compliant with the law. Call us at 248-808-6550.
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.