Property Management: Can a Chicken be a Service Animal?
Last month I attended the Texas Association REALTORS® in Dallas Texas and attended several seminars and took many courses on Property Managements. There were a lot of new rules, issues affecting Property Management starting September 1st, 2013.
Among all these news and information, there were law suit statistics for each types of real estate transactions and as usual and as it was expected, Property Managements business had a most number of law suits. One of the laws suits deals with service animals that I thought is very interesting and wanted to share with you:
There is currently a case an appeal court, in state of Texas, for a case that the tenant keeps a chicken with him and claiming it as service animal. His reasoning is that the chicken gives him comfort and he needs to have it with him for emotional purposes. He has a note from a Doctor stating the same.
After about two years going back and forth to the court and spending (perhaps) hundreds of thousands dollars so far, it seems the landlord is going to give up and the tenant wins.
It seems the winning factor is the note/letter from the Doctor stating the chicken is beneficial to his patient and he must have it. If this one passes in favor of the tenant, tomorrow somebody comes with a letter from another Doctor that he needs snake, etc… in the property!
Just for Your Information, Let’s define Service Animal, Comfort Animal and Federal Law Fair Housing Act dealing with those:
What is a Service Animal?
Service animals are animals that have been trained to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities.
Disability is the consequence of an impairment that may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental, or some combination of these.
Dogs are the most common service animals, although other animals such as monkeys, birds and horses have been documented.
What is a Comfort Animal?
Comfort animals, which are pets that owners keep with them for emotional reasons. (For example, the owner may feel calmer when he or she is near the pet.) Unlike a service animal, a comfort animal is not trained to perform specific, measurable tasks directly related to the person's disability.
What happens if the Home Insurance does not accept a particular animal in the house?
Per HUD, this is the Federal Law, that you (landlord) must accept that service animal in the house. If your home insurance doesn’t allow that, you (landlord) must look for another insurance company that allows that.
Can Landlord Refuse to Lease Property to Those Who Own Certain of Animal?
A landlord may refuse to lease properties to those who own animals (unless the tenant qualifies to have a service animal under the Fair Housing Act), or who own certain types of animals (for example, pit bulls). The landlord must be careful to consistently enforce such a policy.
Rules on Service Animals Security Deposits:
Remember, Service Animals are not considered PETS and the owner should not fill the pet application nor pay pet security deposit. Service animals could be comforting animals too! The tenant just needs a letter from a Doctor indicating that animal is comforting his/her patient. It could be chicken too, as shown in this article.
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