"Emotional Support" dog in Texas

15 Replies

We have some tenants who, after moving into one of our apartments, declared that they had acquired an emotional support dog. We have asked them repeatedly for documentation and they have not complied. They emailed us the certificate that anyone can print off for $25 online, we told them that wasn't sufficient and that they would need a note from a licensed mental health professional, and they have not provided it. 

Then I found out that the dog is spending its days tied to the front porch, and I've now gotten 2 complaints in the last week about it. I'd like to get the dog either removed, or tell them they have to keep it inside, but I'm really unsure what kind of legal ground that puts us on. Anybody have any helpful advice?

LEASE NOTE: We've done a lot of single-family, but this is our first multi-family venture, and we didn't realize that we really needed to use a specific multi-family lease. So the lease doesn't really specify anything about 'common areas' and what is or is not allowed. 

@Stephen Hayworth does your lease say no pets? If it does then they need to get rid of the dog. Post an eviction notice. Call the dog pound on the dog being left tied up outside.

@Robert Herrera the lease allows for the 2 pets they had at the time of moving in. If they weren't trying to hide behind the emotional support animal thing, I would absolutely do as you suggest (and still might) I'm just trying to understand what legal ground we're on with the 'emotional support' dog

@Stephen Hayworth you have to click on the picture to tag someone. Just putting @ doesn’t automatically tag them.

Leaving the dog outside tied up on the porch sounds illegal. Call the pound and ask.

If they can’t supply support documentation on their disability, then it’s a sham to try and keep the dog.

If they are allowed 2 animals, is this a 3rd?

@Stephen Hayworth

The next time the dog is tied to the front porch, call the animal control officer.

@Stephen Hayworth I think this whole "emotional support pet" thing is becoming an interesting conundrum.  What you might want to do is see who ends up taking complaints locally with fair housing and ask them.  When you do file and eviction don't be surprised if they do file a fair housing complaint.  Actually, they'll probably do it when you ask for a pet deposit.  Either way, you'll find out (for better or worse) how "valid" this certificate that they provided is.  Andi  really have no idea is "three pets when the lease says two but one is an emotional support dog" would be considered a "reasonable accommodation".   

When the dog is tied to the porch call animal control and instruct other complaintants to call animal control. Send a letter to everyone on common area use with guidelines on how it is shared. This can be nicely worded and include general information on what is common vs. seperate. I am not sure if you can force another animal out. If that is the support dog and you set a max of two animals one of the others has to go. I am not sure how the courts stand on multiple "support" animals if they were to give that a try. Can you really "need" more then one.

I would get them out if you legally can. If they are tying one dog up outside then they do not know how to take proper care of a dog. The other two dogs which are inside are likely not being taken proper care of and are destroying your property. If you can’t legally get them out now then do not renew their lease.

And call animal control whenever the dog is tied up outside.

This whole emotional support animal thing is being abused excessively. I'm having trouble understanding how tying up a dog outside is supporting a person emotionally. Does one get emotionally satisfied by tying up a dog? 

@Stephen Hayworth it’s great to come here for advice and opinions but there comes a point in certain situations where it’s best to spend the money and go talk to an attorney. This is one of them. It’s great to get everyone’s opinions on here or elsewhere but those will not hold up in court.

Originally posted by @Robert Herrera :

Stephen Hayworth does your lease say no pets? If it does then they need to get rid of the dog. Post an eviction notice. Call the dog pound on the dog being left tied up outside.

 Dangerous advice, because if it truly is a support animal you could be in violation of the fair housing act as I understand it.  Someone correct me if I am wrong.  but you could be opening yourself up to big lawsuits.

Speak to an attorney, any other advice on here is foolish. You don’t want to mess around with any chance of a discrimination suit. They can become very very expensive very quickly on top of any fines and other penalties applied.

There is research that people with pets live longer in general and commit suicide less often and are less depressed.  Therefore it does not take much to get a doctor to write a note.  It should also be mentioned that one person in five will be diagnosed with serious mental illness in their lifetime.  A little over five percent have had it in the last year.

In the adult population one person in six is currently mentally ill.

Think about it.  Do you know anyone on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medicine?

@Bart H. regardless of the dog is a service animal or not, the dog has humanitarian rights. You can’t leave a pet tied up in front of your house all day long in the weather. Having a service animal doesn’t remove your responsibility for caring properly for the animal.

This is where a month to month lease would come in handy. If they are month to month just give them proper notice to move out, and don't mention anything about the dog! If they are locked into a longer lease then you have your work cut out for you, unfortunately. I'm glad I learned here on BP to only use month to month leases, gives me a little peace of mind. Good luck! 

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