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Service Dog

Many landlords have a “no pets” policy, and that is their right to do so. But what if a disabled person wants to rent from you and they have a service dog? As the landlord, do you have to change your policy for a disabled tenant?
Tenants are usually allowed “reasonable accommodations” so that they may have an equal opportunity to enjoy the dwelling and surroundings. One such accommodation permits a disabled tenant to have a service dog at a “no pets” property providing that the animal is indeed needed for disability-assistance.
It is a good idea to have your pet policy written very clearly so that potential tenants understand where you stand. You can have a “reasonable accommodations” form for such tenants, but make it clear that you will require properly documented proof that the animal is a service dog.
The tenant in this case does have certain rights – for instance, the applicant can make the service dog request orally or in written form, but is not required to use the “reasonable accommodations” form to make a legal request.
Also, the tenant does not have to make the request at the time of initial application. The request may be made at any time during the person’s tenancy.
What this means is that even if the tenant brings a dog onto your property without letting you know, and you put him on notice for breaking your “no pet” rule, he is still within his rights to make a request for “reasonable accommodations”.
Many tenants are afraid to disclose that they have a dog, even if it is a service dog, because they are afraid that the landlord will not rent to them. But if you have proper proof that your dog is a service animal, a landlord may not discriminate against you.
If you have questions about your rights as a renter, consult our Online Legal Directory to find an attorney in your area.

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