Different situation regarding service animals and Fair Housing-

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Leslie Prest, Prest Realty, Sales and Rentals in Payson, AZ

We have some prospective tenants wanting to rent a house where the Owner does not want to allow pets. He had a tenant there who didn't take good care of a dog, didn't clean up the backyard, etc. When the prospective tenants brought in their rental applications they listed a service animal.

OK, no problem. We've dealt with this many times. As long as they have documentation, that animal IS NOT considered a pet. Fair Housing rules say we can NOT discriminate against that animal.

BUT (and it's a big but) this animal is NOT fulfilling a need for any of the would be tenants. They take the animal to the hospital as a therapy dog, but none of the family is, themselves, disabled.

My husband and I argued this back and forth awhile, and then I called a hotline for the ADA, which gave me a hotline for Fair Housing. (Well, not sure how hot it is- kind of a run-around. But I DID get through to someone finally). I explained the situation, the lady put me on hold while she talked to her supervisor, and they finally gave me an answer. Which, ahem, agrees with the side I was arguing. Here it is:

Since the animal is not fulfilling a need as a service animal for any disabled person who would be living at the property, IT IS NOT A FAIR HOUSING ISSUE. The animal is not protected. Fair Housing deals with protected classes of people. Since none of the people applying are in any of the seven protected classes, the animal IS a pet, and is not protected.

Helpful numbers; ADA information line: 1-800-514-0301, Fair Housing line: 1-800-669-9777

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Rainmaker
1,087,459
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA
LandlordWhisperer

Leslie * I hope you noted the name of the person you talked to AND the date and time.

I've had a tenant with a great dane because the tenant has MS and the dog helps her walk straight because of it's size.  I would not have turned down the dog anyway in my rental property; however, her MS is NOT visible AND the dog had been specially trained

Aug 28, 2010 06:41 AM #1
Rainmaker
314,191
Leslie Prest
Leslie Prest, Prest Realty, Sales and Rentals in Payson, AZ - Payson, AZ
Owner, Assoc. Broker, Prest Realty, Payson,

We're not trying to determine whether or not the would be tenants have a disability- we're not stupid. When they applied and listed the service animal I asked "do you have paperwork for the animal"- property managers are allowed to ask for documentation that the person has a disability and that the animal meets a need resulting from the disability. What they gave us shows the animal is a service animal but said nothing about a disabled person. They told us that they are not disabled, but they use the dog as a therapy animal. So there is no disabled (ie protected person) there.

Aug 29, 2010 12:21 PM #2
Rainmaker
1,087,459
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA
LandlordWhisperer

Go it! Interesting that there is documentation on a "therapy animal".  I had not heard that before although my 2 dogs would certainly qualify for my life!!!

Aug 30, 2010 05:54 AM #3
Rainmaker
1,108,597
Jim Frimmer
HomeSmart Realty West - San Diego, CA
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist

That's exactly what I would have thought. We have a therapy cat, but it's not documented, other than in our own minds. LOL

Zoey the Cool Cat

Sep 01, 2010 11:47 PM #4
Rainmaker
314,191
Leslie Prest
Leslie Prest, Prest Realty, Sales and Rentals in Payson, AZ - Payson, AZ
Owner, Assoc. Broker, Prest Realty, Payson,

Yeah Jim, we have 4 cats, and they ALL provide very nice purr and rub therapy.

Sep 02, 2010 04:13 PM #5
Rainmaker
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Mary Kay Hopkins
Mary Kay Hopkins, LLC e-PRO, GRI, CRS, CRB - Lake Charles, LA
e-PRO,GRI,CRS

Leslie, I understand the point of your post, but on the dog certification topic.....

....What? Y'all have not of a certified "Canine Good Citizen?"  :)  Truly, there is such a certification as well as one for Pet Therapy Dogs. Google either subject for more info.

 

Sep 09, 2010 04:40 PM #6
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Rainmaker
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Leslie Prest

Owner, Assoc. Broker, Prest Realty, Payson,
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