According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), landlords are required to make reasonable accommodations to tenants who have a disability. There are a few things to consider when you’re renting to people who request these accommodations, especially when it comes to pets and animals.
Waiting for a Court Case
We have talked to a number of attorneys and legal experts about the ADA and its requirements. There has not yet been a court case where a landlord says a dog isn’t allowed or necessary and the tenant responds with evidence that a life coach claims the dog is necessary. Once a case like this reaches the courts and the judge rules that an animal isn’t needed by a tenant, some of the grey area in these matters will be minimized. However, until we find a court case like that, it’s a lot easier for landlords to accept pets and require an additional pet deposit than to get into the back and forth where someone is claiming they need a pit bull to be a functional member of society. Once it goes to court and the judge states what is required, we can have a standard. Right now, we’re dealing with it on a case by case basis.
The most important part of the ADA is the requirement to provide reasonable accommodations for people who have disabilities. Modifying your policy on no pets is a reasonable accommodation. There are certain dog breeds that aren’t insurable. If a dangerous dog bites someone, your insurance company
won’t cover that injury. So a reasonable accommodation on the tenant’s part is to provide an insurance policy on their pet. If it’s a vicious breed, the tenant will have a policy to cover any potential incident. There’s some give and take in such a situation. The landlord is willing to make a reasonable accommodations and a person with a disability might need to express their willingness to protect the landlord from liability.
If you have any questions about pets or service animals and how they pertain to the law, please contact us at Real Property Management.