Emotional Support Dog

47 Replies

I have read the other posts on this topic but I seem to be getting screwed right now and it is a little different then anything else I have read, I rented a house to this young couple in Pittsburgh and they did ask about getting a dog down the road and my reply was:

"This owner is ok with pets, we would visit that when the time comes but you will probably have to sign a pet addendum and put down a refundable pet deposit"

That was the last I heard about the dog until now it is about 45 days later and there has been no issues, I get an email saying she wants to adopt a puppy and make it an emotional support dog.

From what I have read on this topic by her having a doctors note (Are we in school all over again?) she can have this dog without paying a pet deposit because it is a ESA, is there a loophole here? She did not tell me this at anytime prior to me renting this place and now it looks like I will be stuck letting her have this dog without additional security.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, HUD has made this way too easy for professional tenants.

@Ian Hoover  

Not that I am aware of.  Hopefully, some pro's will chime in with advice that counters.  In the meantime, my advice would be to inspect frequently and charge for damages that are caused as they happen. 

That is pretty much it. If she an get a health care professional (not hard) to say she needs it for emotional support then that is it. Be sure to check the note and verify it. Good luck.

As an Autistic/Disabilities activist, probably half of the people I know have either a service or emotional support animal.[not always a dog] I have NEVER met a service or emotional support animal who was not cherished and taken care of.  Cleaning up well after, and preventing damage by the animal is PART of loving and responsible behavior. I spend a huge amount of time at the homes of other Autistics. The homes with emotional support animals are almost always cleaner and better maintained than the homes without them, particularly in homes with only one occupant. If you do not trust her and feel a need to get a doctors note, ask for one. We are used to being mistrusted [though it never stops hurting]

I believe you can still charge a pet deposit even if it is a support animal. What you can't do is refuse tenancy because they require a support animal. I could be wrong though. 

In your situation the owner is ok with pets so at least you don't have that hurdle to concern yourself with. 

Ian, you are correct in that you will not be able to charge her a pet deposit if she in fact meets the requirements for an ESA.  Here's some reading on the topic that should answer all of your questions: Animals & the Fair Housing Act

No pet deposit BUT any damage from the animal [highly unlikely] can be taken out of the regular deposit.

Originally posted by @Vicki Gleitz :

No pet deposit BUT any damage from the animal [highly unlikely] can be taken out of the regular deposit.

 This is what I was told.  Any damage above "normal wear and tear" can be taken out of the security deposit -- no matter who it was caused by.  However there are rules about what you can and cannot do and I suggest you read the link posted above.

No "pet" deposit or fee can be taken as it is NOT a pet... It is an service animal.

This does not mean however that you cannot charge for damages. They still have the obligations of their lease not to cause any damages beyond reasonable wear and tear. A dog pooping and staining the carpet is in fact damage regardless of it is a pet or a service animal.

This is an accommodation.

Yep... looks like I was wrong on my post above about being able to charge a pet deposit.

You need to think of and treat the request for a service animal as a request for an ADA reasonable accommodation request which must meet three legal tests:

1. The person has a disability

2. The request (in this case - the pet) assists their disability.

3. The request is reasonable.

Proceed with caution as HUD is doing all sorts of national advertising to tenants asking them to call if they even THINK they have been discriminated against in any way (this includes by not allow service animals). A HUD complaint and investigation is a real life nightmare.

I have a pretty good 'reasonable accommodation request form'. E-mail me off-line and I will send it to you.

You don't have to have a disability to request reasonable accommodation for a ESA.  ESA's are NOT the same as a service animal but can have some or all of the "rights" as a service animals. 

If dogs are outlawed then only outlaws will have dogs!

I am all for tenants being allowed to have their pets in fact I allow pets (with deposit and approved application of course) in all my personal rentals, however the government is allowing these tenants to take advantage in this situation.

FYI my mother has MD and my father has mental disabilities so I see the importance of the fair housing laws but this girl seems perfectly fine to me, I think she is a professional tenant.

A German shepherd puppy can do way more damage then her security deposit will cover.

One BIG difference between a service dog and and emotional support animal...a regular service dog costs tens of thousands of dollars for all of their training.  Most disabled people cannot afford that.

Originally posted by @Ian Hoover :

  I see the importance of the fair housing laws but this girl seems perfectly fine to me,

 A similar statement caused a service dog owner in one of my buildings to be awarded $50,000.  It was said by their attorney!!!  Now they are facing legal action on a retaliatory eviction!!!  Guess they think doubling down is the way!  

I said it on another thread.  If your real name is Ian Hoover I'd try to get this off the internets before it haunts you BIG time.

Just a friendly word of advice, Ian. In my 30 years in management in the corporate world, it was always drilled into us that whenever we said something verbally or in writing, we should always consider beforehand how it would sound being read back to us in a deposition.

Originally posted by @Bob Bowling:
Originally posted by @Ian Hoover:

  I see the importance of the fair housing laws but this girl seems perfectly fine to me,

 A similar statement caused a service dog owner in one of my buildings to be awarded $50,000.  It was said by their attorney!!!  Now they are facing legal action on a retaliatory eviction!!!  Guess they think doubling down is the way!  

I said it on another thread.  If your real name is Ian Hoover I'd try to get this off the internets before it haunts you BIG time.

As I see it, Ian is just stating his initial impression. That is why he needs to see documentation from a qualified professional that this tenant is indeed a person with a qualified disability and that this particular animal is necessary to fill a need related to that disability. As we know, there are many people who try to get a pet into their rental home under false pretenses. It is okay to be cautious.

Ian has not denied housing, he has not denied allowing a person with a qualified disability a reasonable accommodation, and he is not evicting the tenant because of her request for the dog. I trust he is exploring this and will be reading up on it what he needs to do and will follow through, keeping within the law. No need to alarm him.

Originally posted by @Bob Bowling:

You don't have to have a disability to request reasonable accommodation for a ESA.

Actually, to qualify for a reasonable accommodation for an ESA (emotional support animal) or a service animal a person must indeed have a qualified disability. Housing providers are allowed to request appropriate documentation to verify this.

Originally posted by @Marcia Maynard :
Originally posted by @Bob Bowling:

You don't have to have a disability to request reasonable accommodation for a ESA.

Actually, to qualify for a reasonable accommodation for an ESA (emotional support animal) or a service animal a person must indeed have a qualified disability. Housing providers are allowed to request appropriate documentation to verify this.

YOU ARE WRONG!

Originally posted by @Marcia Maynard :
Originally posted by @Bob Bowling:
Originally posted by @Ian Hoover:

  I see the importance of the fair housing laws but this girl seems perfectly fine to me,

 A similar statement caused a service dog owner in one of my buildings to be awarded $50,000.  It was said by their attorney!!!  Now they are facing legal action on a retaliatory eviction!!!  Guess they think doubling down is the way!  

I said it on another thread.  If your real name is Ian Hoover I'd try to get this off the internets before it haunts you BIG time.

As I see it, Ian is just stating his initial impression.   No need to alarm him.

As @Fred Heller stated, " So Ian, is it YOUR medical training or is it a "ability" you have since birth that allows you to "sight" determine disabilities?"  LOL   You think any lawyer won't search the internet to find his statement?

@Marcia Maynard  

 @Ian Hoover  

  Can you pick out the $100,000+ awarded  ESA or service animal?   I really don't mean to be so confrontational but the ignorance needs to be addressed.  My buddy that does practice law in Nashville is flying over this week. Alooooha!  I should probably see what he could do with these posts.

OK..................

I have to disagree with @Bob Bowling The Dog Lover!

I personally think this rule is ridiculous.  Not that they are allowed to have them, but that the property owner has to waive the security deposit, AFTER the tenant already signed a lease that stated that IF they have a dog, they will have to pay that. 

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