Learn About a Landlord’s Rights for Service Animals

If you’re a landlord or a property owner in the state of California, you might be wondering if you’re legally required to allow tenants with service animals. You might have some concerns about letting an animal live on your property, but fair housing laws are meant to dissuade landlords like yourself from discriminating against tenants with disabilities. If you’re not sure how to comply with these laws, take a moment to learn about a landlord’s rights for service animals.


California’s Fair Housing Laws

Every state is different, but in California landlords are required to make accommodations for tenants with service animals. This is true even if you own a building or a home that is not pet-friendly. The only exception to the rule is if the pet has a proven history of causing a direct threat to other individuals or their property. However, if a reasonable exception can be made to lessen the threat associated with the animal, then you must allow the animal on your property.


Can I Ask for Proof of Disability?

Yes, there’s nothing wrong with asking the tenant for proof of their disability. They should provide you with proper medical documentation from a medical professional that outlines the scope of their disability and why the animal is necessary. Asking for proof of disability is your way of protecting yourself as a landlord.


What Kinds of Disabilities Do These Laws Apply To?

These laws do not just apply to seeing-eye dogs, they also apply to emotional support service animals and psychiatric service animals. Any condition, whether mental, emotional or physical, that warrants the use of a service animal must be allowed on the property.


Am I Allowed to Charge a Pet Deposit?

No, the state of California prohibits landlords from charging an extra fee or a pet deposit to tenants with service animals. This is true even if you normally charge your tenants a pet deposit or an extra fee of some kind for harboring an animal. Charging a tenant an extra fee simply because they depend on a service animal amounts to a form of discrimination.


Do These Laws Apply to Just Dogs?

No, California’s fair housing laws apply to disabled individuals with all kinds of service animals. There’s nothing in the law that excludes other types of animals. Of course, certain pets are not used as service animals.

If you’re not sure how to handle certain situations as a landlord, you can always leave the busy work to a third-party rental property management company. Businesses like JS Tamers will make sure that you and your property are in full compliance with the law at all times. Give yourself some peace of mind and let a rental property management company do the heavy lifting for you.