Emotional Support Dog in Michigan

7 Replies

Hi everyone,

We have a tenant that is getting an Emotional Support Dog in a condo in Michigan. The complex does not allow dogs but obviously cannot do anything about a support animal. We also cannot ask for an additional security deposit or additional rent to cover us at all. We will be asking for a doctors not and vaccination records for the dog.

My main concern is the off chance the dog does bite someone and there is a lawsuit. It seems to me that we cannot make the client add coverage to the renters insurance policy since that would be an extra free and not be allowed by law. Would we as the owners be liable for a lawsuit, or is that the dog owners responsibility? Is there anything additional we need to do to cover ourselves?

Any help is appreciated!

Christian

You can require them to have renters insurance for liability purposes, just like you can require the dog to be registered and vaccinated per city ordinance. You can also require them to clean up dog poop and keep the animal from excessively barking or causing disturbance. Getting an emotional support animal doesn't relieve them from responsibilities of pet ownership. Also keep in mind that "reasonable accommodation" rules also mean you should not bear extra cost. If you get a fine for dog poop in the common area, they need to pay it. They need to bear the expense of liability insurance, not you. Get this all in writing.

I would also recommend that you ask them to have the doctor email the letter directly to you from their professional email address. That eliminates a tenant from making a fake letter or going online to print a bogus certificate. The doctor or other medical professional needs to say specifically that the animal is required. For example, "I am treating John Doe for a medical condition that requires (1) Black Lab for treatment". 

M2M agreements.  You can deal with this stuff immediately.  If I allowed animals, I would have put it in the rental application and agreement. I may need an emotional support animal the next time I replace chewed up cabinets and/or a subfloor that smells of urine. Good grief.