There are up to 500,000 support animals in service today. You’ll find that the numbers vary due to different definitions assigned to these animals. In 2019, about 200,000 animals were designated as emotional support animals.
As a property owner, do you know if you must allow tenants to keep service animals? Keep reading to learn about your legal obligations as a property owner or manager.
Definition Of Service Animals
The Texas Human Resources Code, Section 121.002 defines assistance and service animals. This denotes a canine who’s equipped or trained to help persons with disabilities (PWD). In some circumstances, other animals may receive certification.
Federal law differentiates between assistance animals and service animals. Some laws aren’t limited to dogs and consider the individual scenario. Assistance animals may not always have the same legal protections as service animals.
The law gives full and equal access to all housing accommodations for PWD’s service animals. The renter may not be legally required to pay pet deposits or extra rental fees.
Texas Rental Property Law About Support Animals
Texas property rental law requires owners to make reasonable accommodations. This means making changes to policies, practices, or rules for PWDs.
The goal is to create an equal opportunity for the individual to enjoy living in the house or apartment. In some, cases structural changes or modifications may need to occur. TDHCA monitored rental property owners must pay these expenses.
Owners may legally ask for the applicant to provide verification of their disability. Yet, they can’t ask about the cause, type, extent, or severity of the disability.
The owner may request a letter from a medical professional documenting the animal’s job. This should support an identifiable connection between the disability and the accommodation request.
If the owner refuses the request for accommodation, they must offer an alternative. The proposed space should meet the person’s disability-related needs.
Pets In Rentals
The Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act address service animals. These laws state that assistance or service animals can live with their owner.
It’s important for PWDs to understand that they’re liable for property damage caused by the animal. This does not apply in the case of normal wear and tear. Owners may also seek legal recovery if the animal’s behavior causes a nuisance or a danger.
TX Housing Laws Regarding Emotional Support Animals
The emotional support animal’s (ESAs) job is to provide security and comfort for their person. They work with only one person and go with them to public and social places. Often these animals assist individuals after trauma or those with mental health issues.
Texans granted an ESA by a health professional have certain federal protections. They're guaranteed fair and equal access to housing with their ESA. This applies to houses or apartments that normally don’t allow pets.
Landlords may ask for an ESA letter showing a certified need for the animal. Owners may not charge extra fees or refuse to rent housing because of the ESA. Once again, the renter must pay for property damage caused by the animal.
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This article discussed rental laws related to support animals. Navigating the rental property laws can feel overwhelming. Property rental success demands significant time, experience, knowledge, and effort.
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