Years ago, you were fine with tenants keeping dogs and cats, but after several ripped carpets and clawed baseboards, you've decided to ban them.
Now you have an applicant who has a service animal. Do apartments have to allow emotional support animals in San Diego, California? The answer is yes!
Under federal and state law, you have to make an attempt to provide reasonable accommodations. Check out this guide to learn more.
What Are Service Animals?
Service animals are pets that have an important job to perform. In the case of emotional support dogs, they're trained to provide comfort to those with mental illnesses such as depression and PTSD.
While emotional support animals aren't allowed in retail stores and other public spaces that sell food, they are protected under both federal and California state housing laws.
Emotional support animals aren't always dogs. Any trained domesticated pet can qualify. Cats, minipigs, rats, hedgehogs, ferrets, birds, and rabbits are just a few examples.
Reasonable Accommodation Law
Even if allowing pets is out of the question for you, as a landlord, you're required to work with tenants due to reasonable accommodation laws.
The law states that landlords must accommodate those with disabilities at the landlord's expense. That means you have to adjust your policies and procedures to allow a disabled individual to live and thrive in your rental space.
Can You Deny a Service Animal Request?
You can deny a service animal request if its existence would prove a threat to other residents; allowing the animal would result in a devastating financial burden on you, or the person who requested the accommodation doesn't have a disability.
You're not allowed to deny a service animal based on your pet's breed, weight, and size restrictions. You also can't deny a service animal request due to speculation of what the animal may or may not do.
For example, if the dog breed is notorious for destructive behavior, you can't turn it away for a crime that it hasn't yet committed. You need actual proof based on an assessment.
Can You Charge a Fee?
Apartment buildings typically charge a fee to allow pets. However, you can't charge a fee for a service animal.
Under California law, you're not allowed to tack an extra fee onto the tenant's rent or charge a bonus security deposit either.
Can You Ask for Proof of Disability?
A person's disability isn't always obvious. This is especially the case for those with emotional support animals.
This being said, you're allowed to ask the potential tenant to provide proof of their disability. Something as simple as a letter from a healthcare provider will do.
Do Apartments Have to Allow Emotional Support Animals? The Answer Is Yes
Do apartments have to allow emotional support animals in San Diego, California? The answer is a strong yes!
Support animal regulations are only one of the many laws you'll have to comply with as a landlord. The best way to keep up with all of them is to hire a property management company.
Harland Property Management has been keeping landlords compliant for over 20 years. Contact us to find out more about our services.