Pit Bulls, Horses, and Poor People

64 Replies

Originally posted by @Account Closed:
@Duncan Taylor,

Please go back and read what I said. I said I only do this for lawyers never said for tenants, but tenants have a right to know who they are renting from, and landlords have a right to know they are renting to. I agree some owners are hard to find, but because they think, they can shuffle the paperwork 10 times and get lost in the shuffle want work because they always leave a paper trail.

Joe Gore

Tenants do not have any such right. They have to right to know where and how to pay their rent, how to contact someone about maintenance or a problem and where to send or serve legal notice and to live in the property with quiet enjoyment as long as they pay the rent and follow the terms of the lease or rental agreement.

They have no more right to "know who they are renting from" than you have a right to know the details of every single GE stockholder just because you bought one of their light bulbs.

@Aly W. That is hardly a "new twist" Am Staffs are a common place service dog bc of their loyality and ease of training attributes. @Brian L the applicants you speak of arent that bad. At least they are an easy screen.

@Jon Klaus,

I agree it is off topic. I was just pointing out landlords should be honest with tenants or future tenants, but I understand new landlords don't like to be forth coming.

Lets move on to something differant.



Joe Gore
Originally posted by @Aly W.:

...

And a new twist I recently heard from an applicant was that her part pit bull, 50 pounds, was a certified service dog.

Under Fair Housing rules, you would have to allow a "reasonable accommodation" for this situation. A service animal is not considered a pet under Fair Housing, so all of those "pet" rules have to be set aside.

Now, the word "reasonable" there leaves a lot of loopholes. For example, should your insurance company be like mine and prohibit certain dog breeds, it would be unreasonable for somebody to expect the landlord to switch insurers to a policy that allows such breeds (and the potentially higher premiums that would go along with allowing those breeds). If your HOA has the prohibition, then the HOA might actually be challenged by the Fair Housing folks. But this is really getting a bit off of the intent of this thread's topic ...

Originally posted by @Steve Babiak:
Originally posted by @Aly W.:
...

And a new twist I recently heard from an applicant was that her part pit bull, 50 pounds, was a certified service dog.

Under Fair Housing rules, you would have to allow a "reasonable accommodation" for this situation. A service animal is not considered a pet under Fair Housing, so all of those "pet" rules have to be set aside.

Now, the word "reasonable" there leaves a lot of loopholes. For example, should your insurance company be like mine and prohibit certain dog breeds, it would be unreasonable for somebody to expect the landlord to switch insurers to a policy that allows such breeds (and the potentially higher premiums that would go along with allowing those breeds). If your HOA has the prohibition, then the HOA might actually be challenged by the Fair Housing folks. But this is really getting a bit off of the intent of this thread's topic ...

I'd check the certification on the dog. Certification is not required and many are bogus.

To be considered a service dog, the person using it must have a disability preventing them from handling some kind of life task without the assistance of the service dog or at great difficulty without the dog. The disability must be documented or easily observable and the dog must have received SPECIFIC training to perform the needed task. If those are not met, it is not covered under the ADA nor the ADA Restoration Act.

So, if it is not obvious how this dog is a service dog, I'd ask for documentation on the task the dog performs, the training it received for it and how that task mitigates the disability the person claims.

Legitimate owners of service dogs should have absolutely no problem proving their claims. The bogus ones, well, they are counting on the landlord just rolling over and not doing their due diligence.

I love dogs and I have always held there are no bad or evil dogs, the problem is always the owner and trainer.

Having said that, you must comply with the law but so must the person claiming their adorable pooch is a service dog and not just their pet or watchdog.

@Duncan Taylor brings up good points. Here is the HUD 2013 information on service animals.

Given that some dogs provide therapy-type assistance to vets with PTSD or others with emotional disabilities, the disability may not be obvious. You are allowed to ask for documentation in those cases. Interestingly, you are NOT allowed to ask for documentation or medical records when the disability is readily apparent; in other words, you can't try to document how extensive a visible disability is.

As far as the types of dogs involved, here is a quote:

Breed, size, and weight limitations may not be applied to an assistance animal. A determination that an assistance animal poses a direct threat of harm to others or would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others must be based on an individualized assessment that relies on objective evidence about the specific animal's actual conduct — not on mere speculation or fear about the types of harm or damage an animal may cause and not on evidence about harm or damage that other animals have caused.

However, according to the Pet Ownership for the Elderly and Persons With Disabilities final rule by HUD you do not have to make an accommodation if the dog "pose[s] an undue financial and administrative burden." I'm curious how the courts have interpreted this when it comes to insurance and dog breeds.

No legal advice. In fact, I'd love to hear from a lawyer with ADA/HUD experience.

Anyone familiar w/ the qual process for service dogs understands it wouldnt be the dog that would be the issue, it would be any additional cost based on breed discrimination laws.

Our condo associations prohibit dogs over 20 pounds and my insurance company prohibits "dangerous breeds". The applicant told me the association can't prohibit her service dog, and I said she could take it up with them. She had only called for an appointment to see the unit, she hadn't filled out an application, so maybe the word applicant isn't accurate. I pre-screen by asking about pets. There were other qualified applicants, and that was that.

Originally posted by @Aly W.:
Our condo associations prohibit dogs over 20 pounds and my insurance company prohibits "dangerous breeds". The applicant told me the association can't prohibit her service dog, and I said she could take it up with them. She had only called for an appointment to see the unit, she hadn't filled out an application, so maybe the word applicant isn't accurate. I pre-screen by asking about pets. There were other qualified applicants, and that was that.

If you rented it to someone else before she even submitted an application then truly, that is that.

Look some people really do need these service dogs. I can even understand some with deep emotional troubles needing an emotional support animal. If they really do fit the letter of the law, I seriously doubt they would have any problem providing whatever was reasonably needed to justify the accommodation request.

The ones who bluster and say you can't do this and you can't do that are more often than not just trying to game the system. I hate it when a business, any business takes the short term easy way out in situations like this. It never ends, until they run into someone like me. :)

All of our property managers had a documented procedure for addressing accommodation requests. The valid ones were accommodated, the bogus ones were sent on their way to try to intimidate some other landlord.

Comply with the letter of the law, by all means. But, for God's sake don't be a Neville Chamberlain about it.

Great posts! I just thought I would include my 2 cents. I understand not wanting to rent to applicants that have pit bulls for some of the obvious reasons, like insurance purposes, local bans, etc. But in my experience dealing with pit bull owners, if they pass my screening process and they understand my concerns, and I see no red flags, then I have no problem. I have 2 families that I rent to in Chicago, both have pit bulls, and both take great pride in taking care of my properties. Never have any issues with the dogs or neighbors. The neighbors actually like having the pits around, because people who don't know them, will think twice about causing problems. The dogs are well trained, but the stigma is still there for strangers to stay away. As far as entering a property when owners are not present, it's simple. My tenants know that when I'm coming over and the dogs are home alone, they get put in their kennels before I enter. And just for the record, I also have 2 pit bulls and a beagle. And for some reason, my beagle is meaner than my pits? Go figure.

I don't rent to anyone with dogs so I can't speak on that.

But, I own a pitbull and my finances are very in order thank you.

@Bryan L. I have been told the book "A Framework For Understanding Poverty" by Ruby Payne, explains these things if you are questioning and want to understand.

@Bill S. I've read the book and attended her seminar. It is a fascinating concept that really hits home for me--as someone who grew up poor and is rising to middle class. You made my day for mentioning this, and I highly recommend it to others. Thank You!