claim of service dog after violating pet clause

60 Replies

@Steve Babiak  according to this even insurance doesnt get you out of the requirement. Also was told this by my attorney. Insurance refusing to cover a claim could have a legal nightmare of there own. It does say that a 

  • A disabled person who does not properly manage his/her unruly, destructive, aggressive, or disturbance causing animal can be evicted.

Directly From HUD

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/states/sh...

Situation 1
John has been diagnosed with severe depression and is disabled as defined by the Fair Housing Act. His doctor prescribes John a dog to help alleviate some of his symptoms. John asks his landlord if he can have a dog as a reasonable accommodation for his disability. His landlord says yes, but tells John he'll need to pay a $250 pet deposit and must provide proof that the animal is trained.

Question: Did John's landlord correctly handle John's request under the Fair Housing Act? What if John wanted a cat or a ferret instead?

Answer: No, John's landlord did not handle his request correctly. The landlord cannot charge John a pet deposit for his animal because it is not a pet, but rather a service/companion animal required for disability. Further, the landlord cannot ask for proof that the animal is trained. Lastly, service/companion animals do not have to be just dogs; they can also be other animals, such as cats or ferrets.

http://www.nsarco.com/emotional-housing.html

Landlords cannot:

  • Ask a tenant to pay a deposit, fee, or surcharge in exchange for having a service or emotional support animal, even if they require such a practice from owners who wish to obtain pets in their dwelling.
  • Require that an emotional support animal have any specific training
  • Require the emotional support animal to wear or carry any special collar, harness, vest, emblem, or other means of identifying it as such.
  • Inquire about the extent of the disability, or ask for detailed medical records for the individual requesting the service or emotional support animal.
  • Refuse to accommodate you and your animal because their insurance policy won't allow a species, breed, or weight. They are still subject to the law.
  • A person with a disability may, however, be charged for damages caused to the premises by their emotional support or service animal.
  • A disabled person who does not properly manage his/her unruly, destructive, aggressive, or disturbance causing animal can be evicted.

Ok everyone, Wish I had a different outcome that we could all learn from but the tenant once again lied. This time to the courts and the story takes a twist. 

He used a low income program (required less than $30,000 per year), to file an appeal to the eviction (even though his rental application listed his income from his employer ( a bank!) in excess of $50,000). 

I had a motion filed to dismiss his appeal as it was illegal. 

Court of Common Please found in my favor and issued eviction notice in 5 days.  

He did not leave so I filed to obtain order to have sheriff appear and forcible remove him.  

Sheriff had to remove him by giving him 10 minutes to take his property and leave. 

Since his lease was up in 45 days and he had paid till end of month but was looking for new residence and had already removed much of his property. YES! I was evicting rather than waiting 45 days. 

Several reasons.

This 50 year old man needed to be shown that he could not act in whatever way he wished but had to follow our societies rules. I know ! I know!  you are thinking.................... what a waste of money. yep, it cost me $3000 in legal fees and court costs. BUT.....I have two rules I follow in my business. 1. I will not own a home I will not live in. 2. No neighbor will ever regret me owning in the neighborhood.  In addition to the pet issues the tenant's teenage emotionally needy child terrorized the neighborhood.  I caused that....I fixed that. 

I have since filed claims for my legal fees and the $7000 or so damage to the property including;

1. Holes in siding near front door

2. Odor of smoke in bedroom

3. Cigarette burns in carpet in bedroom

4. Holes punched in walls

5 two doors totally destroyed by punches and kicks

6. Two windows casements destroyed by child and needing windows replaced

7. Medicine cabinet broken

8. shelves torn off walls in bedroom closet.

9. Broken ceiling fan

etc, etc, etc,  you get the picture.

I filed with same JP as i did originally and won case and got judgement. 

Now to collect. We'll see.

I also listed this tenant with local Apartment owners Association in hopes that future landlords are aware.

Shorter version

He broke lease.

I evicted him and got a judgment. 

I kept my promise to myself and believe did what I should to maintain society. 

I lost money but still have my self esteem and sleep well. 

He should have difficulty in future doing this again to another landlord.

Dang, a smoking dog that kicks holes into the walls.  I'll admit I'm baffled how Spot damaged the ceiling fan.  I may have to reconsider my pet friendly policy.  ;-)

  • Landlords cannot:
    • Ask a tenant to pay a deposit, fee, or surcharge in exchange for having a service or emotional support animal, even if they require such a practice from owners who wish to obtain pets in their dwelling.
    • Require that an emotional support animal have any specific training
    • Require the emotional support animal to wear or carry any special collar, harness, vest, emblem, or other means of identifying it as such.
    • Inquire about the extent of the disability, or ask for detailed medical records for the individual requesting the service or emotional support animal.
    • Refuse to accommodate you and your animal because their insurance policy won't allow a species, breed, or weight. They are still subject to the law.
    • A person with a disability may, however, be charged for damages caused to the premises by their emotional support or service animal.
    • A disabled person who does not properly manage his/her unruly, destructive, aggressive, or disturbance causing animal can be evicted.

The last 2 sections of this do have benefits to the landlord . Especially the last , "a disturbance causing animal "  can be evicted .    What is a disturbance ?  This could be argued that the neighbors in unit 2 are disturbed by the animal .  Or someone elses child is scared of the animal .

You are clearly in the right here. I hope you have written lease policy stating no pets.

You need to have your attorney take the reigns on this one if it goes any further. Next thing you know they will file a complaint with HUD for discrimination and you will have all the ADA backers breathing down your neck. Documentation is key!

Make them provide you with a written note from the Dr. (on Dr.'s letterhead) stating the son needs a service dog.  A Dr. will not write that note falsely if he knows it is going before a judge.  Also, a service dog takes 6-12 months to train and they are required to have a "service dog" vest.  You could also ask for the training records for the dog and to show proof of the vest.

I managed apts for 11 years...  :)

Originally posted by @Becky Teague :

Make them provide you with a written note from the Dr. (on Dr.'s letterhead) stating the son needs a service dog.  A Dr. will not write that note falsely if he knows it is going before a judge.  Also, a service dog takes 6-12 months to train and they are required to have a "service dog" vest.  You could also ask for the training records for the dog and to show proof of the vest.

I managed apts for 11 years...  :)

Your 11 years of PM experience in the past is probably not going to help you in this new era of emotional support animals. You might want to get up to date on this topic.... in order to keep up with tenants and tenant applicants that use the internet.  Emotional Support Animals are a whole 'nother thing from the old days when support animals meant trained service animals for tasks, such as aiding the blind. ESAs are for ANYONE with ANY disability.  You cannot ask for specifics of the disability and the animal does not have to be trained. It can be a turkey or a snake.  The disability can be anxiety.  LLs are in a whole new world and landmine of potential discrimination lawsuits. Stay uninformed at your own risk.

A fun and sobering read about the confusion surrounding Emotional Support Animals:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/10/20/pets-allowed

I can confirm that the author's experience is not uncommon.  We had friends meet us at a restaurant for brunch last month....with a large airdale terrier.  The dog wore a vest purchased off the internet with some kind of patches indicating some kind of service.  No questions asked about the dog, who sat under the table.  My daughter hosts at a Japanese restaurant and the owner and managers don't question any of the guests wanting to be seated with their animals....all can/will claim ESA.  It's a landline that no one wants to touch.  

@Marcia Maynard I think you'll find the article interesting.