Service Dog Question

7 Replies

Hello all! I want to seek advice on a situation I am having in one of my properties in North Carolina.

  • I inherited a tenant in a triplex that we acquired 4 years ago.
  • At some point after we acquired the property, the tenant gets a dog.
  • I advised the tenant that this is against the lease and they said they were just dog sitting.
  • Several weeks ago, I confronted the tenant and they admitted it was their daughter's dog. Their daughter lives with them.
  • I gave them a week to resolve the issue. We thought this was resolved
  • However, my wife discovered they still had the dog. 
  • We sent them a 5-Day Notice to Comply with Lease Agreement
  • When they received the notice, they showed us a document that the dog is a registered service dog. It seemed that they only got this certificate a month ago.

I would appreciate any advice in the situation. 

Research the requirements for a service dog. You need valid proof not just a form they down loaded off the internet.

Your tenants are lying, obviously, otherwise they would have said it was a service dog in the beginning. I would strongly suggest you continue with the eviction for the time being. Push and they will back off.

Although I strongly believe it is not a service dog I do believe you should be getting rid of these tenants. They have no respect for your rules/lease or you. Evict

@Christopher R. Out of curiosity, would you prefer to allow the dog to stay with a revised lease, or you just don't want the tenant to have the dog there in any circumstance?

Is this a service dog or an emotional support animal? Either case, there should be a doctor or registered authority that you can contact to verify the dog has been trained as a service animal or the doctor has registered this animal as an emotional support animal. People buy fake certificates on and other places. Valid certificates should have the authorizing agency or doctor for you to contact to verify authenticity. Note, you can’t ask the nature of their disability but you can verify authenticity. 

There was another recent thread about service dogs, and it appears that according to laws/the Americans with Disabilities Act, that a service can be any dog either trained or in training to do special duties. HOWEVER, there is no documentation and you can not legally ask for documentation. Read here:

Basically, even if they didn't show you the document that they already did, all they had to say was it's a service dog and you have to basically leave the issue alone.

A service dog has received extensive training (usually about 2 years). They are only for disabled people and must perform a specific task that mitigates that disability. These dogs are exempt from any rules about pets as they are legally medical equipment, not pets. Ask them for a written statement from a physician stating this person has a disability and needs the dog to mitigate it. That is about the extent of what you can legally do. You cannot evict a service dog.

An ESA is NOT a service animal, is NOT trained but still has legal right to reside there if the tenant can provide a written statement by a doctor.

You can ask if they are disabled and what tasks the dog performs. You cannot ask the nature of the disability.

however, it sounds like these tenants are full of ****.

Service dogs are highly trained, they behave in a very specific way due to that training. They won't bark at you or anything else, they wont chew, show aggression or even interest in you. If this dog is behaving in a way that is unlike a service dog, they are NOT a service dog. They are ONLY service dogs if they are under the control of the disabled handler. 

There is NO registry or certification for a service dog. Sounds like they got a phony off the internet. You're allowed to ask for a statement from their physician and you are allowed to evict if you see negative behaviour from the dog. The tenant is STILL liable for damages either way.

You are permitted to ask your tenant to provide documentation showing the disability/need for a service animal if the disability is not readily apparent. That means if someone is blind and says they need a service dog, that is obvious, but if someone says they have seizures that is not obvious and you can ask for documentation.

One thing about all this: it seems like a pretty long timeline. You say you inherited the tenant 4 years ago, and sometime after that they get a dog. Was it a month ago? A year ago? 3 years ago? Length of time is going to play for or against you on issues like this. When you said "you thought this was resolved", what made you think that - did the tenants tell you they had rehomed the dog? Or did you think it was resolved because you told them to resolve it? And what did you mean by "resolve the issue"? If you really wanted the dog gone, you should have given them written notice of the violation and the resolution of that violation. 

In any case, by now they surely must be sans lease or at best on a month to month. Why not just terminate their month to month tenancy, without reason? 

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