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Tenant Support Animals: Legalities That Landlords Need to Know

Tenant Support Animals: Legalities That Landlords Need to Know

While we're all aware that being around animals can improve mental health, it might surprise you to learn that owning a pet can also improve your physical health. This is especially true for people who own support animals.

As a landlord, it's essential to understand the legalities around support animals so you don't infringe upon anyone's rights. Not only will this prevent issues from arising, but it will also improve the experience people with disabilities have at your rental property. Let's explore the key information you should keep in mind.

What Is a Support Animal?

A support animal is one whose presence helps alleviate the symptoms of someone's disability. These can come in many forms and aren't limited to conventional pets like dogs and cats. For example, someone could own a horse as a support animal.

Can Tenants Have One?

Tenants are allowed to have emotional support animals in Florida as long as they have a letter from a medical professional or mental health provider explaining their condition. Keep in mind that you can't discriminate against people who require support animals. For example, you can't have a blanket no-pets policy as a way of excluding tenants with support animals.

Notable Exceptions

Certain scenarios allow you to circumvent these guidelines. One of the most notable is if a landlord owns a building with four units or less where one of the units is occupied by the landlord.

Owners of single-family homes that were rented out without the use of a Realtor are also gray areas where support animal guidelines may not apply. If the animal becomes a threat to the other occupants of a building, you have the legal right to refuse pets on a property.

The same can be said if the animal disturbs others who live on the property or the surrounding area. In extreme scenarios, the animal could be reported to animal control and euthanized.

Financial Concerns

Legally, you can't charge a deposit for a support animal. However, you can still hold the owner liable for damage the animal causes.

Common areas of concern are carpets, door frames, and floors. Keep this in mind so you can avoid issues you may have otherwise encountered.

Questions You Can't Ask

There are certain questions regarding your tenants' disabilities that you can't legally ask. These include:

  • The severity of their disability
  • If they have a disability
  • About their symptoms
  • The type of treatment they've received

If you don't adhere to these guidelines, you could be held legally liable. However, it's worth noting that the tenant may disclose this information on their own.

Understand Support Animal Legalities

One of your key responsibilities as a landlord is protecting your tenants' rights. The tips in this guide will help ensure you don't infringe upon the legalities around support animals. This can save you time/money and strengthen your relationship with your tenants.

All American Realty and Investment Group is a full-service real estate brokerage management company. We pride ourselves on delivering fast results without sacrificing quality. You'll learn more about how we can help when you get in touch with us today.