Over 44 million American households are renters. There has never been a better time to get into the real estate game, but as a landlord, you need to understand the rules and regulations regarding support animals. This includes emotional support animals (ESAs).
This article provides information on the laws and best practices that must be considered and adhered to.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Support animals are classified as medical tools. Support animals are covered by both federal and state laws in Dothan, Alabama. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mainly deals with:
- Public services and accommodation
Remember, service animals, aren't just pets, so this isn't a discussion about allowing pets in rental properties.
Fair Housing Act and Alabama State Law
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) stops discrimination in housing. This means that disabled individuals have the right to live with their support or assistance animals in rental properties.
Alabama state law backs up these federal rules. This ensures that people with disabilities in Dothan are protected and treated fairly.
Defining Support Animals
To receive ADA protection, service animals must be trained to perform tasks that mitigate their handler's disability. The ADA provides legal protections for individuals with disabilities who use service animals such as:
- Guide dogs and hearing dogs
- Service dogs
- Psychiatric service dogs
- Medical alert dogs
- Autism support dogs
- Mobility assistance dogs
- Seizure response dogs
While service animals are trained for particular jobs, emotional support animals aren't. The law protects both types of animals, but the rules for accommodating them can vary.
The ESA laws for emotional support animals can vary. Individuals with ESAs and property owners should be aware of and follow the specific laws and requirements in their state and locality.
Property owners should make it simple for tenants with support animals to apply for accommodation.
You can ask for a letter from a healthcare professional confirming the need for an emotional support animal (ESA) because of a disability. But remember, you don't need to know the details of the disability since that's private.
It's important to act quickly and provide the necessary help, as required by the law. Delaying could be seen as treating tenants unfairly.
Best Practices for Property Owners
Following the law is crucial, but it's also a good idea to have clear rules about support animals in rental properties. Here are some best practices to think about:
Create a written policy for support animals. This should explain how tenants can ask for help and your responsibilities as a property owner. Make sure to update the policy to follow the law and best practices.
Stay informed about federal and state laws, as they can change over time.
Respond quickly to requests for support animal accommodation and keep records of all interactions and messages about these requests, including any documents tenants give you. This is generally a good idea for all landlords to follow.
Understanding Support Animal Regulations
Support animals are covered by both federal and state laws. Given their potential for frequent changes; it's your responsibility as a landlord to stay updated at all times.
Call us at PMI Wiregrass to learn more about our services and how we can help with your rental property. We offer property management services in Dothan, AL.