97% of all pet owners think of their pets as family. 51% say they belong as much as any human.
There is one designation that puts them above a pet or even a family member, and that's a support animal. These amazing animals help those with disabilities live their lives. That's why landlords may be required to let them in.
Read on to learn how to accommodate support animals.
What Qualifies As a Support Animal?
Keeping all animals out may seem like a way to protect a rental property investment. They cause damage and make noise.
There are times when that's not possible. It's important to know what falls under the umbrella of support animals.
Service animals are dogs or horses that are trained to perform specific tasks for those with disabilities. These may include:
- Guiding the blind
- Helping the hard-of-hearing
- Interuppring self-destructive or self-harm behavior
- Alerting their handlers to seizures
- Providing physical support
- Retrieving items
- Opening doors
- Pushing wheelchairs
Emotional support animals are a different type. They aren't trained to perform a specific task but aren't considered pets. They provide comfort for those with psychiatric and emotional conditions such as:
- Learning disabilities
Indiana Support Animal Laws and Exceptions
Indiana law prohibits landlords from refusing anyone who has a support animal who helps them with a physical disability. It doesn't cover emotional support animals.
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act extends these protections. It prohibits landlords from refusing tenants with support animals or charging them extra fees.
Tenants are liable for any damage their animal causes. Landlords are also allowed to exclude them from public places if they cause direct damage to the health and safety of others.
How to Verify Support Animals
The easiest way to know a service animal is legitimate is if you receive documentation about the tenant's disability. This can come from:
- Federal, state, or local agencies
- SSDI or Social Security Disability Income
- Medicare or Supplemental Security Income
- Veterans' disability benefits
- Services from a vocational rehab
- Disability benefits
- Eligibility for housing assistance
- Health care professionals
- Online ESL letters
If you're still unsure, meet the tenant and their animal. Can you see them perform a service, such as leading them around?
Look at what type of animal it is. If it's not a dog or miniature horse, it's not a service animal. If it's an exotic animal and they claim it's for emotional support, they'll need substantial evidence.
A property management company can help you make the difficult call. They're familiar enough with housing discrimination laws to help you avoid issues. They can also help you fill vacancies without letting in problem tenants or their animals.
Get Property Management for Every Part Of Your Rental Property
There are two types of support animals. Service animals are trained to perform specific disability-related tasks. Emotional support animals serve as psychological support.
They're protected by housing discrimination laws if their owner can provide the proper documentation. It's otherwise up to the landlord.
Navigating these types of complicated issues requires an experienced team that knows the law and how to handle tenants. Contact us at PMI Michiana for property management in South Bend, Indiana today.