What to Do if Your Landlord Has a No Pet Policy but You Have a Service Animal

What to Do if Your Landlord Has a No Pet Policy but You Have a Service Animal

Kaylyn McKenna
 | 

Service animals are animals specifically trained to assist an individual with a disability. They provide a great degree or safety and independence to disabled people. Service animals are legally allowed to live with their handlers, but approaching landlords about having a service animal can be intimidating. Here is what you need to know if you have a service animal and want to rent in a no-pet building:

 

Do Landlords Have to Accept Service Animals Even If They Have A No Pet Policy?

 

Yes, service animals are not considered pets in the eyes of the law. They are more akin to medical equipment from a legal perspective. 

 

The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that prevents discrimination in housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. This protects service dog handlers from being denied housing due to their disability and required accommodations.

 

All forms of housing in the United States are covered by the Fair Housing Act except:

  1. Rental buildings with 4 or fewer units, in which one unit is occupied by the owner
  2. Single family homes sold or rented by the owner without the use of a broker
  3. Housing owned by private clubs or religious organizations in where only members can rent or reside
 

If you have a service animal, you may run into difficulty renting in-law units or units in smaller complexes, but the vast majority of rental housing options are required to allow your service animal.

 

How to Approach a Landlord About Having a Service Animal?

 

Before you bring home a service dog or begin the search for a new apartment with your service dog, check in with your medical provider about documentation. Landlords are generally allowed to request written documentation about the medical need for a service animal. However, they are not entitled to know your specific medical condition. It’s also a good idea to make sure that your service animal’s vaccinations are all up to date as landlords are also allowed to request those.

 

Once you have all of your documentation together, let the landlord know that you have a service animal. Be respectful, but firm while discussing this. Demonstrate that you understand your legal right to accommodation and be clear with them that you plan to have your service dog live with you. Service animals are not subject to pet rent or extra pet security deposits, so do not be talked into paying extra to move your service animal into your residence.

 

What to Do If a Landlord Refuses to Allow Your Service Dog?

 

If your request for accommodation is denied and the property does not fall under one of the FHA exemptions discussed above, seek legal assistance. An attorney can help you explore your legal options. There are also government agencies that will investigate housing discrimination. HUD is a federal agency that handles housing discrimination complaints, including those related to disability discrimination and service animals. Depending on your location, there may also be state or local agencies that can intervene or investigate on your behalf as well. Do not put up with discrimination for utilizing a service animal.

 

This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.

 
Kaylyn McKenna

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