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Tenant’s Rights to Service Animals

What are tenant's rights to have service animals?New situations and problems are bound to arise when you’re a landlord and property manager in San Diego. Although some of the more common problems include dealing with emergency plumbing or unpaid rent checks, others such as pet policies are not as straightforward and need to follow guidelines outlined by the state in which you’re renting in. So if you’re a landlord, can you have a no pet policy?

The answer to this question is at first, yes. If you are a landlord and do not want to allow pets in your property, you have the right to state such in your lease. However, if your prospective tenant is disabled and they need a pet to provide service or emotional support, the tenant has the right to have a pet on the premises regardless of the language in the lease. For help with tenant relations, click here and learn about the services provided by a professional San Diego residential property management company.

Looking a bit further into the situation, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act has mandatory guidelines regarding persons with disabilities. Property owners must make reasonable accommodations in their policies, practices, rules and services, which enable these individuals to have fair and equal access and enjoyment of a dwelling, including any common and public areas. Under state fair housing laws, these accommodations include the ability of people to reside with the service, assistance and emotional support of animals that enhance their quality of life.

These rules apply even if the property has a no-pet policy. Statutes provide specific allowances for service animals, but numerous federal and state court cases and administrative rulings have expanded the definition. The law now includes assistance and emotional support animals as well.

To meet the criteria for a disability, an individual must have a mental or physical limitation that affects at least one major life activity, such as standing, communicating or working. The support animal must have the ability to assist the individual in areas like hypoglycemia alert, guidance, mobility, hearing and emotional support. Because of their therapeutic role, these animals are not considered pets.

The property owner may require proof from a doctor that the tenant has a disability and that the support animal is required to alleviate the effects of the disability. While the resident is liable for any damage that the animal causes to the property, the owner cannot charge any additional fees or deposits for having an assistance animal. The animal cannot pose a danger to others, and the tenant must comply with all reasonable rules regarding noise and cleaning up after the animal.

Have additional questions about tenant’s rights to having a service animal? No problem! Contact Harland Property Management at 858-367-0343 today. Our experts in residential and multi-unit apartment complex management in San Diego will be more than happy to assist you.