General Landlording & Rental Properties

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Anthony Park
  • Property Manager
  • Salt Lake City, UT
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Landlord ESA question

Anthony Park
  • Property Manager
  • Salt Lake City, UT
Posted May 31 2018, 14:08
Hello my name is Anthony I currently manage my property in Magna Utah. One of my current tenants that signed a few months back into our lease agreement informed he would be acquiring an Emotional Support Animal. I manage the property as no pets and the lease was signed agreeing so. I don’t want to create any legal issues as ESA and Service dogs cannot be denied in Utah by my understanding. My question is what can I request as proof and how can I verify without violating laws? Also the tenant provided a card saying the dog is an ESA however no additional paperwork was included or any individuals name tying to the ESA card. Another local property informed me these cards can be purchased on the internet and are not legit. Thanks Anthony

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Michele Fischer
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Seattle, WA
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Michele Fischer
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Seattle, WA
Replied May 31 2018, 21:40

Smile, tell him that you love to accomodate ESA's, and tell them your process is to get this form filled out.  This issue is largely unchartered territory, there has not been a lot of litigation yet.  Try to not be the next legal case, but be firm that the animal is not approved until this form is filled out completely and correctly.  Force them to jump through the hoops and force them to declare themselves disabled, and to get a doctor to vouch for it.  This country has gone crazy with pets, and so many applicants and tenants are looking for an easy way to avoid the pet rent and deposit.  Landlords take on extra cost and risk by accepting pets, we should be compensated unless the animal is truly trained to perform a task.

FORM TO REQUEST AN ASSISTANCE ANIMAL

We are committed to granting reasonable accommodations when necessary to afford persons with disabilities the equal opportunity to use and enjoy our rental properties.

Under the Fair Housing Act, a person with a disability is defined as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Reasonable accommodation may include waiving or varying pet polices and fees to allow an Assistance Animal. An Assistance Animal is an animal that does work or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support or other assistance that alleviates one or more symptom or effects of a person’s disability.

Please complete this form completely and return it to us. All information will be kept confidential, except as otherwise required by law.

Today’s Date: _______________________

Name of person with disability requesting accommodation: _____________________________

What is the species of animal? __________________________

Provide the name and physical description (size, color, weight, license) of the animal:

_______________________________________________________________________________

Does the animal perform work or do tasks because of the disability? _____________

If Yes, please provide a statement from a health or social service professional indicating that you have a disability and explaining how the animal is able to do work or perform tasks that alleviate one or more symptoms or effects of your disability.

If No, please provide a statement from a health or social service professional indicating that you have a disability and how the animal alleviates the symptoms or effects.

Please attach statement with any additional information and contract information for the professional completing the statement.

_______________________________________ _______________________

Signature of Person Making Request Date

_______________________________________ _______________________

Signature of Person with Disability Date

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Anthony Park
  • Property Manager
  • Salt Lake City, UT
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Anthony Park
  • Property Manager
  • Salt Lake City, UT
Replied Jun 1 2018, 08:31

Thanks for responding I’ll print this off to use and to save in my documents. In my simple research on the internet I found mention of an “ESA letter” that the prescribing doctor provides once determined an individual has a health or mental disability to be aided by an emotional support animal. Could I simply request the letter and inform the tenant if it cannot provided the animal will not be able to stay in on the property?

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Blair Poelman
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Provo, UT
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Blair Poelman
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Provo, UT
Replied Jun 1 2018, 14:33

anybody can have an emotional support animal, but an ESA is NOT a service animal.  ADA doesn't specifically apply to residential real estate, but this could help you out.  https://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm.  Pay special attention to the last sentence, paragraph 1 under the heading "How “Service Animal” Is Defined"

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Anthony Park
  • Property Manager
  • Salt Lake City, UT
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Anthony Park
  • Property Manager
  • Salt Lake City, UT
Replied Jun 2 2018, 07:36

Thank you looking over it now.

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Arian Mustafa
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Worcester MA
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Arian Mustafa
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Worcester MA
Replied Jan 10 2021, 16:44

You can also request the Healthcare Professional NPI # which any legitimate Provider should provide.  That can be used to verify this is a legitimate request as well.

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Lora H.
  • Investor
  • Denver, CO
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Lora H.
  • Investor
  • Denver, CO
Replied May 31 2022, 14:36

I realize this is an older post but I found it because I'm searching for some guidance on the same topic myself.  I got this info from my lawyer/friend who kindly looked it up.  We're in CO so this may not apply but in case someone from CO looks for this, they'll have it:

I’ve not had that issue come up in my practice, but recalled seeing the following discussion on the Bar Association discussion forum:

Dear list-mates,

I just trying to remember the details of service animal vs. an emotional support animal for a rental housing situation in which a LL does not allow pets. It is my understanding that a service animal is not to be considered to be a pet, should be allowed to live at the property with the TT, and no pet deposit or fees can be charged for a service animal of a TT.

An emotional support animal is not considered to be the same as a service animal, but a TT can make a request for a reasonable accommodation to have an emotional support animal. If that is the case, what can a LL require to allow a TT to have an emotional support animal (request that the TT provide documentation so that the LL can properly review the accommodation request) and can they require a pet deposit, fee, or additional pet rent be charged?

Thanks for your feedback.

Sal Quintana, Esq.

Quintana Law Firm, LLC

6860 South Yosemite Court, Suite 2000

Centennial, CO 80112

***Response****:

Sal,

Colorado allows landlords to request satisfactory documentary evidence that an animal is needed for emotional support reasons, which my residential leases provide must be a mental health professional's letter that (a) is written by a specific type and quality of professional: active, licensed mental health professional, such as psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist or counselor having a masters in social work, etc. who currently treats tenant on a regular basis; and (b) demonstrates that the determination of tenant's need for the emotional support animal is based upon such professional's treatment of tenant over a period of time. Landlords may also control the type and size of animal that is allowed for the specific premises by applying a reasonableness standard.

Once an animal is identified by the parties as an emotional support animal, the actions landlord can take with regards to "pets" end. This means that no pet deposit and no extra monthly rent for a pet can be charged.

However, landlord can still make tenant responsible for, as examples: all damage caused by the animal, adherence to all governmental and community rules and regulations, ensuring safety of others, ensuring no disturbance of peaceable enjoyment of others in their residences, and so forth.

Hope this helps.

Barb

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Marina Wong
  • Investor
  • greater Boston and greater Tampa areas
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Marina Wong
  • Investor
  • greater Boston and greater Tampa areas
Replied Jun 21 2022, 07:14

@Lora H. Does the attorney give any guidance in terms of rental insurance that need to specifically include the pet's name? I feel the need for that for a dog but it would be overkill if it's a cat. However my management company advise to ask all pet owners to do that. The property I have has some low income families and I feel bad that this gives the tenants extra burdens if they only have cats. But then again I know some people have ESA that are exotic animals and I am not sure where to draw the line. 

I have a rental in FL and one of the tenants got one of those cards mentioned above ONE WEEK after moving in (without telling the management company that she has a dog). I researched the FL law and it basically has the same stipulations as what Lora's attorney said (Bill S 1084 er, 3/10/2020 if any FL landlord wants to look up). Apparently one cannot even refuse when the date of the ESA card is after the move in date. When I checked the website that the tenant used, it shows that I only need to pay $80 or so to get one of the certificates. FL have had a ton of fraud by these pet owners and such a bill meant to give some guidance to what landlord can and cannot ask. One thing the landlord cannot do is ask the tenant to fill out specific forms. I think they also caught on the fact that some landlord wants tenant to jump through hoops.