These Are Not Pets...

Reblogger Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl
Real Estate Agent with Samsel & Associates 0790808

Thanks to Doug Dawes of Keller Williams in Boston for this great information about service animals. Landlords must permit service animals, even if their leases do not allow pets. Service animals are critically important for some people just to participate in what many of us would consider normal life!

Please visit Doug's original blog here.

Original content by Doug Dawes 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.

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



Broker Sales Associate

KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY - Topsfield/Newburyport

49 Main Street
Topsfield, MA 01983
 978-887-3995  ~ Office
 978-270-3037  ~ Cell


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Norma J. Elkins
Elite Realty Group - Morristown, TN
Realtor - Elkins Home Selling Team

That is some really great information.  I know that there are some who genuinely need the animal and then there are others that have their dog certified so they can take it on vacation. Unfortunately there are always the rule breakers.  Thanks for sharing this though, it was very insightful.

Jul 18, 2019 08:13 AM #1
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Good Morning Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl 

I thank you for reblogging the information on service animals.

Jul 18, 2019 09:22 AM #2
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much for sharing this excellent reblog selection.

Jul 18, 2019 09:35 AM #3
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good afternoon Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl - it was good to re post Doug.  Many people don't know the obligations.

Jul 18, 2019 10:09 AM #4
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Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl

The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate
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