Pets Vs Assistance Animals: Do You Know The Difference?

Denver Property Management, Landlord Essentials

Allowing animals in a rental property is a big topic in the property management sphere. And with the number of renters who are also pet owners close to 50%, you’re bound to run into a pet request whether you allow them or not. But there’s a second type of request every landlord runs into at some point in time as well: do you allow assistance animals? In short, the answer is always yes and here is why.

Assistance Animals vs Pets

The big thing to take away from this is that assistance animals ARE NOT pets. According to Federal Fair Housing Laws, an assistance animal is defined as “an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.” This includes service animals, emotional support animals, and can take the furry (or scaly) shape of any type of animal, such as a dog, cat, bird, lizard, miniature pony, etc. Any animal that is also an assistance animal must be allowed regardless of any pet policy and here’s why: they’re not considered pets, but as part of the person themselves.

I Can Charge A Pet Deposit, Right?

Wrong! Landlords cannot charge any type of deposit or non-refundable fee for an assistance animal since they are not considered pets. You can, however, hold the tenant responsible for any damage caused by the assistance animal out of the regular security deposit.

As a landlord, you need to be aware of what you can and cannot do, including any laws or regulations pertaining to renting out your home. The difference between pets and assistance animals is a big one, and failing to know the difference between them can land you in some hot water. If you’re really not sure how to handle the situation, contact a real estate attorney to get clear guidance on the laws. And if you’d rather not have to worry about navigating these types of situations alone, contact us about managing your rental for you! Real Property Management Colorado has the knowledge and experience to handle these types of situations and more!