Adams Morgan landlords are certainly the ones responsible and answerable for offering reasonable accommodation for tenants with disabilities. This includes emotional support animals in rental properties. Lamentably, numerous landlords are unaware of their legal obligations or try to seek ways to avoid them. This blog post will offer you a few effective guidelines for rental property owners concerning emotional support animals. We will, in like manner, touch on the negative impact and consequences of not seriously complying with the law.
Defining Emotional Support Animals
The first thing to realize is that emotional support animals are not the same as service animals. Service animals are, in particular, 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 supply 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 extend reasonable accommodation for tenants with disabilities. This includes permitting emotional support animals in rental properties, even if your property is presented as “pet-free.” Property owners are not sanctioned to charge additional pet deposits or higher rent if a tenant wants to keep an emotional support animal on the property.
There are particular exceptions to this rule, for instance, if the animal is a danger to other tenants or if it causes heavy damage to the property. But despite that, these exceptions are rather unusual and should not be used as to excuse to forgo 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 request your tenant to provide a letter from a health professional. This letter mostly conveys that the tenant has a mental or emotional disability and that 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.
Rather, take note, that 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
So let’s speculate that an Adams Morgan property manager disregards a tenant’s request for an emotional support animal or tries to charge them additional fees. In such circumstances, the tenant can file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD will investigate the complaint, and if they figure out that the property manager has violated the law, they can impose penalties. These can certainly include civil fines, damages to the tenant, and even a court order warranting the property manager to accept the emotional support animal on the property.
For these reasons seen above, landlords need to understand their legal obligations regarding emotional support animals. Ignorance of the law is undoubtedly not an excuse and can lead to terrible penalties. If you have any questions about your pet policy, the Fair Housing Act, or emotional support animals, contact Real Property Management DC Metro. We can completely assist you to navigate state and federal laws and keep your rental property policies fully compliant with the law. Call us at 202-269-0303.
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.