These Are Not Pets...

By
Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA 92593-B

I just had this question posed to me by the new owner of a 6-unit building I had listed.

Question: I don't allow pets so what do I do about service dogs or emotional service animals and can I reject them"?

As this subject of emotional support animals comes up frequently I thought the following response from the Massachusetts Association of Realtors Legal Hotline would provide a clearer answer to those dealing with tenants. 

 

Emotional Support Animals


Q.        A tenant is asking permission to have an emotional support animal and the building does not allow pets – can I say no?

A.        In many situations, you may be required to make an exception to a “no pets” policy for a tenant who requires an assistance animal. Under Fair Housing laws, an assistance animal is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or that provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified effects of a person’s disability. An assistance animal is not a pet.

Housing providers may not refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services when an accommodation may be necessary to afford a person with a disability the equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. An interactive process must take place between the housing provider and the tenant, and the housing provider must make an individualized assessment for each request for a reasonable accommodation. Breed, size, and weight limitations may not be applied to an assistance animal, nor may a housing provider impose an additional financial burden on the tenant for having an assistance animal in the property.

The interactive process is triggered when a request is received by or for a person with a disability. The request must be supported by reliable disability-related information if the need for the assistance animal is not readily apparent. A housing provider may not ask an applicant or tenant to provide access to medical records or medical providers to provide detailed or extensive information or documentation of a person's physical or mental impairments. Additionally, there is no requirement that an assistance animal be specifically trained, certified, or registered.

When a tenant or applicant has provided information demonstrating the need for an assistance animal, there are only very limited circumstances where the request for a reasonable accommodation may be denied:

  1. Allowing the animal would impose an undue financial and administrative burden on the Housing Provider;
  2. Allowing the animal would fundamentally alter the nature of the housing provider’s services;
  3. The specific animal in question poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others and cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation; or
  4. The specific animal in question would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation.

A housing provider may require the assistance animal to be up-to-date on appropriate vaccines and to be registered with the city or town, if necessary. The tenant may also be required to clean up after the animal, keep it properly restrained, and keep it under control. The tenant may be financially responsible for the cost of repairing any damage caused by the animal, as well.


It is always recommended to seek legal counsel prior to denying an accommodation request.

I hope this helps.

Posted by

I pray that God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you and bless you with peace

2 Thessalonians 1:2

 

Doug Dawes REALTOR®, AWREP, LMC

Broker Sales Associate

KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY - Topsfield/Newburyport

49 Main Street
Topsfield, MA 01983
 978-887-3995  ~ Office
 978-270-3037  ~ Cell
 DougDawes@KW.com

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Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl 07/18/2019 08:10 AM
Topic:
Real Estate General Information
Location:
Massachusetts
Groups:
FOR SALE BY OWNER - MARKETING(FSBO)
Boston Real Estate
New Hampshire - Real Estate and Life in The Granite State!
MA REALTORS
Boston Area Real Estate
Tags:
fair housing
pets
tenants
animals
law
discrimination
landlords
service dogs
emotional support

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Rainmaker
4,408,606
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy

Doug,

When I have seen what those service animals do, I could not refuse someone with a service animal.  And we agree with Michael Jacobs .  A

Jul 10, 2019 08:26 AM #7
Rainmaker
761,679
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Good Morning Sheri Sperry - MCNE® 

That's why the MAR makes the hotline available. It is a good service

Jul 10, 2019 08:39 AM #8
Rainmaker
761,679
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Good Morning Pat Champion 

Thank you and have a great afternoon too

Jul 10, 2019 08:40 AM #9
Rainmaker
761,679
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Good Morning Ron and Alexandra Seigel 

These are amazing animals that perform a marvelous service 

Jul 10, 2019 08:42 AM #10
Rainmaker
3,060,509
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Hi Doug... so much confusion out there on this subject, this is a very timely and useful post.

Jul 10, 2019 10:41 AM #11
Rainmaker
2,520,238
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

I know that most landlords don't want to accept pets, but in the eyes of the fair housing laws, assistive animals are not pets, so they have to accept them.

Jul 10, 2019 10:54 AM #12
Rainmaker
3,240,028
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

Ahhhh yes...local laws rule and if you take on the responsibility of being a landlord best to stay current on laws in your area.

Jul 10, 2019 04:04 PM #13
Ambassador
3,843,589
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

HI Doug- I'm sure this is welcome information by property owners who are leasing to tenants.  And it is very important to know the local laws. 

Jul 10, 2019 07:17 PM #14
Rainmaker
2,005,731
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
DFW FINE PROPERTIES - Southlake, TX
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Doug Dawes - This is an excellent post with really good information. Local ordinances don't make exceptions if people claim they didn't know. 

On a personal note, I am so happy to see so many service dogs in my area and in Airports too! It has become a way of life that has benefited so many people who need a trained service dog. 

You did a great job, Doug!

Jul 11, 2019 03:27 AM #15
Rainmaker
761,679
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

There IS much confusion out there Nina Hollander The key to "pets" is service animals are not pets, according to the government

Jul 11, 2019 06:43 AM #16
Rainmaker
761,679
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Good Morning Brian England 

Bingo! And that's what landlords can't seem to understand 

Jul 11, 2019 06:44 AM #17
Rainmaker
761,679
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Ignorance of the laws is not a valid defense. So you are spot on Sally K. & David L. Hanson 

Jul 11, 2019 06:45 AM #18
Rainmaker
761,679
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Hi Kathy Streib 

LOL...I don't know if it's welcomed by landlords BUT they must adjust their thinking and understand that service animals are not pets

Jul 11, 2019 06:46 AM #19
Rainmaker
761,679
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Good Morning Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP 

If it wasn't for the service animal movement many "challenged" people would not be able to take part in mainstream America

Jul 11, 2019 06:48 AM #20
Rainmaker
3,142,962
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Doug,  Service animals are so important to their owners and some people do not get it.

Jul 13, 2019 08:38 AM #21
Ambassador
3,282,803
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

What a great public service announcement, Doug. We have to be on top of the ever-changing laws where service animals are concerned. 

As for not being pets - OH, I couldn't have a personal service animal that I didn't fall in love with and call a pet!! 

Jul 13, 2019 04:11 PM #22
Rainmaker
1,292,799
Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl
Samsel & Associates - Clark, NJ
The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate

Great information! Service animals are critical for some people just to function in society.

Jul 18, 2019 08:06 AM #23
Rainmaker
761,679
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

You are correct Will Hamm many landlords do not get it with regards to Service Animals

Jul 18, 2019 09:24 AM #24
Rainmaker
761,679
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

I hear you Debe Maxwell, CRS and agree. That being said, Service Animals are a working animal.

Jul 18, 2019 09:25 AM #25
Rainmaker
761,679
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Thank you for reblogging this post Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl it contains important info

Jul 18, 2019 09:26 AM #26
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