Hi BP Nation,
OK I have a 1 bedroom apartment for rent and I currently allow tenants to have 1 pet for an additional $25 pet rent. I had a young interested who has 4 cats! She says they are emotional support cats... Can I get into any equal housing trouble by denying her because of her cats even though they are for emotional support?? Thanks for the help
I would recommend that first she must supply a doctors note for all 4 and also your policy is one pet only I don't think the EEOC would say she needs all 4. If she pursues it raise the cat rent to $25 for first $100 for additional ones since you never stated this to anyone before and keep it your policy any more than one pet $100 pet rent, hopefully that will price her out. I don't allow any pet in my apartments they are destructive especially cats they pee in closets and on floors, dogs scratch floors and chew on trim causing damage so it's not worth the clean up and repair.
Four emotional support cats sound ridiculous, and I can just imagine the smell after having 4 cats in a one bedroom! I would look very carefully at her application, credit, employment history, past LL recommendation and inspection of current residence before approving her application. You may find that she does not qualify for another reason -- nothing to do with the ESAs.
It is difficult to imagine a person needing that much emotional support is able to function in the world of employment -- unless she works in a pet store!
I couldn't help but laugh at your subject line. I say this as a joke, and a cat lover, and own one myself but:
Cats?!? Cats aren't emotionally supportive at all. They are way too self-centered for that, lol.
But seriously, she would need to provide the appropriate documentation (ie doctor's note) that EACH cat is an ESA. Unfortunately, you cannot charge a higher rent or higher security deposit for an ESA or multiple ESAs. Because they are not pets. They are "medical equipment", for lack of a better phrase.
Or perhaps, outside of the cats, she is just not the best and/or first application you have received anyway.
If she is able to prove they are all ESAs and you do rent to her, just because you can't charge her an additional security deposit, doesn't mean she isn't responsible for any extra damages her ESAs cause. Be clear in your lease that any damages to the unit must be paid as they occur. I'm assuming you have regular inspections of your rental units (ie annually, quarterly, etc.). If not, you should. If the cats are causing damage and/or bad smells, that can be addressed in an inspection.
Thank you all for the advice, I've got my game plan!
Best approach is to say nothing to the applicant about the cats and simply hold out for another qualified applicant. You then let her know the unit has been rented.
Still taking applications is the best stall till you find someone qualified.
Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate
Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing