All landlords with any restrictive pet policy will deal with existing and emerging issues surrounding service and emotional support animals. Handling these issues correctly is important because landlord actions in this arena are subject to regulation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and state laws. All the laws mentioned have different elements that qualify a tenant for protection and different requirements for landlord compliance.
Service Animals generally have a greater degree of protection than emotional support animals.
But emerging state laws have been offering emotional support animals similar protections. A landlord always has a right to request documentation for a tenant’s need for either a service animal or a support animal. The degree of specificity of the animal’s documentation varies depending on the tenant’s circumstances.
The best way to approach service and emotional support animal situations is to develop a robust and flexible policy that allows for the approval of animals in compliance with the various regulations. You should involve an attorney in the policy creation process to ensure your company’s approval process is not in violation.