Property Management: Can a Chicken be a Service Animal

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Texas Five Star Realty, Plano Texas

Property Management: Can a Chicken be a Service Animal?


Chicken is 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.


Bahman Davani from Texas Five Star Realty Serving City of Plano Texas With the pride of living over 33 years in Plano, I am proud to serve as your Professional Real Estate Consultant and guide you through the selling, buying and leasing process, help you locate a suitable site for your business, provide neighborhood demographics and schools information, and more information.

Mobile: 214-457-7055
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Team Honeycutt
Allen Tate - Concord, NC

The illuatration is so cute. I have never heard of a chicken being a service animal before. Oh well..................


Oct 24, 2013 12:34 AM #38
Shanna Hall
Real Estate Solutions - Kirkwood, MO
I love selling houses!!!St. Louis, MO 314-703-1311

People are being granted everything on a whim- when is this country going to stand up and start saying no- we have rules... 

The chicken deal sounds like the person wanted to ahve an animal that was not allowed, also didn't want to pay a pet deposit adn monthly fees and found a quack to write hima letter...

Oct 24, 2013 12:52 AM #39
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

My non binding opinion that is not a legal opinion.  It stats the service animal must be trained.  Is the the chicken trained?  Is the note from a therapist?  All that being said, if they say it is a service animal I am not going to roll the dice with the courts.  Keep the chicken.  

Oct 24, 2013 01:54 AM #40
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Our laws just keep getting more and more insane. It's a wonder anyone is still willing to be a landlord. 

Oct 24, 2013 02:15 AM #41
Raymond Denton
Homesmart / Evergreen Realty - Dana Point, CA
Veteran Friendly Realtor®

When I was a kid, we'd put a dime in a machine and the chicken would play the piano with her beak for a few grains of corn.  That chicken provided a real service!

Oct 24, 2013 02:20 AM #42
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

Bahman, what a story!  Being a landlord is becoming tougher every month.  I will share this story with those who think they want to become a landlord.

Oct 24, 2013 02:52 AM #43
Marnie Matarese
Showing you the best of Sarasota!

I am a pet lover but after my last experience with a tenant with an animal I will not mention, I have sold my rental home and washed my hands of the entire rental experience.


Oct 24, 2013 03:17 AM #44
Buster Avila
RE/MAX Metro - Saint Petersburg, FL

I had to do extensive research on this while on the board of my condo, due to many problems with pets and animals.  I should probably write my own blog post on this, but here's a quick nutshell specific to this issue:

SERVICE ANIMALS (not pets) must be allowed (ADA).  They are trained and certified and have all rights to all public places and transportation, etc.

ESAs (Emotional Support Animals, also not pets) must be allowed.  They do not need to be trained, BUT the (1) owner must have a disability (you don't need to know what it is however), and (2) the animal must "ameliorate the effects" of the disability.  The disabled person should provide a signed letter on his/her doctor's letterhead stating those two things.  You may ask for a review every couple of years, to verify the disability and the need.  ESAs only have housing rights.  For instance, if a community pool does not allow pets in the fenced area, Service Animals may enter (ADA) but ESAs may not.

Theoretically, a chicken could be an ESA.  Whether someone wants to tackle the limitations that can be imposed on type of animal or breed is another issue, because it could be a miniature horse, too (local case here) or a goat (just read about that one).  If you want to talk about breed bans, you'd better ensure there are no local (city, county, state) anti-BSL laws on the books first.

And FYI:

COMPANION ANIMALS generally refers specifically to elderly owners to get to keep their treasured pet in public housing - no disability required

THERAPY ANIMALS basically have no rights.  These are the animals who are trained to comfort patients in hospitals and other similar scenarios (residents of nursing homes, etc).


Oct 24, 2013 03:25 AM #45
Theresa Akin

Another reason I really don't want anything to do with property management. I'll refer that to someone else in our brokerage. Lately, I've come across 3-4 individuals who are wanting to claim their animals are ESAs and not Service Animals. I just tell them they need to have the necessary documentation. Their replies have been "Where do I get the documents?"  Nuff said.

Oct 24, 2013 04:13 AM #46
Jerry Lucas
ABC Legal Docs LLC - Colorado Springs, CO
Mobile Notary Colorado Springs, CO Notary Training

The bird flu virus remains active in poultry in Asian countries.  It is spread from close contact with birds or bird droppings. 

The chicken may need emotional support when the tenant cooks a turkey at Thanksgiving. 

Oct 24, 2013 01:45 PM #47
Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940

You have plucked a lot of interesting responses from the for me if it is an egg laing hen...I am all for it!! But it is gonna need a partner!!

Hey Grandpa...what's for Supper?

Oct 24, 2013 01:46 PM #48
Bahman Davani, CM at Texas Five Star Realty, Plano, TX (214) 457-7055
Texas Five Star Realty, Plano Texas - Frisco, TX
Homes for Sale in Plano, Frisco, Prosper, Allen TX

Thank you all for your great comments. Some were funny and hilarious, some serious, some didn’t believe and laughed, a few has seen similar cases in their state and local area and a few had done in depth research and provided more information.

The bottom line is be aware of this kind of situations, know the federal, your state and local laws, city ordinances, and don’t forget the HOA (Home Owner Association) rules and restrictions on having pets, service animals, companion animals, Emotional Supporting Animals; if you are in leasing or property management business.

It seems the size, weight, type and how vicious and dangerous the animal could be is irrelevant. It all comes down to the attorneys, expert witnesses (e.g., Doctor, Doctor’s note, etc) and the Judge. Just be aware of this kind of problems. Have a great weekend.

Oct 26, 2013 01:00 AM #49
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

They might have to take me to court, but not allowing chickens in my rentals.

Oct 26, 2013 03:25 AM #50
Barbara Tattersall
Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan (Keene,NH) - Keene, NH

I love my chickens.  :-)   I wouldn't consider them service animals but they do a heck of a job weeding the garden with me.  They are easier to keep than a dog.  As to life expectancy...they are not necessarily short lived.  I've heard with proper care they can reach 25 years old!  With your "comfort animal" news, perhaps my nursing home will allow them in my room when the time comes.

Oct 29, 2013 08:24 PM #51
The Matt & Molly Team
The Matt & Molly Team - Asheville, NC
Moving The Mountains

Property management is no joke.  One of the managers in our area is being activly picketted by an angry former tenant...

Oct 30, 2013 01:16 AM #52
Josh McBride
Shrewsbury, PA
Southern York County, Shrewsbury, PA & Baltimore

Property management should definitely be left to someone who does it full time!  The day and the life of a realtor! Good post! 

Oct 30, 2013 02:26 AM #53
Morris Massre
Pembroke Pines, FL
Real Estate Instructor Broward County Florida

They could probably eliminate all of this stuff if they just narrow down the choices of animals to a select few.  We all know a chicken can't do a damn thing.

Oct 30, 2013 04:16 AM #54
Bahman Davani, CM at Texas Five Star Realty, Plano, TX (214) 457-7055
Texas Five Star Realty, Plano Texas - Frisco, TX
Homes for Sale in Plano, Frisco, Prosper, Allen TX

The issues and file suits in TREC (Texas Real Estate Commissioner) by far is the number of 1. As many of you suggested, it is much better to give to property management professionals to take care of managing your rentals, and you get some referrals. 

Oct 30, 2013 12:27 PM #55
Vanessa Saunders
Global Property Systems Real Estate - White Plains, NY
From Manhattan to the Catskills of New York

The madness continues...sigh


Oct 31, 2013 09:35 PM #56
Meghan Pursley
York, SC
Your South Carolina Real Estate Expert

I guess to each his own, I would prefer a dog! 

Nov 01, 2013 01:40 PM #57
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Bahman Davani, CM at Texas Five Star Realty, Plano, TX (214) 457-7055

Homes for Sale in Plano, Frisco, Prosper, Allen TX
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