Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets

Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets

America is a nation of animal lovers, with more than 50% of people saying that their creature companions are part of the family.

However, when it comes to renting homes, both landlords and tenants face challenges when animals are involved. On the one hand, you want your tenants to be happy, on the other, your investment comes first.

This guide aims to clear up confusion about service animals, emotional support animals (ESAs), and regular pets, providing clarity at all stages of the rental process.

Read on for more information.

Service Animals: What They Are and Their Rights

Service animals are usually dogs (and sometimes miniature horses) trained to help people with disabilities. Their tasks vary, but may include:

  • Guiding the blind
  • Alerting deaf people
  • Pulling wheelchairs
  • Helping during seizures or anxiety attacks

By law, specifically under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), these animals must be allowed in all public places, including rental homes. This means landlords must let service animals live in the property even if they usually don't allow pets. Also, landlords can't charge extra fees or deposits for these animals.

Emotional Support Animals: Trusted Companions

Emotional support animals provide comfort to people with mental or emotional issues through companionship. They don't need to be trained for specific tasks and can be any animal, not just dogs.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) requires landlords to allow ESAs in rental properties, even if pets are generally not allowed. Tenants must provide a note from a healthcare provider to prove they need the ESA. Landlords can't charge extra fees for these animals but can ask for this documentation.

Pets: Regular Animals

Pets are animals kept for company and fun, not for helping with disabilities. Landlords can set their own rules about pets, including what kinds, sizes, or breeds they allow, and whether they charge extra fees or deposits.

If your tenants have pets, conducting regular rental property inspections is a must. Pets in a rental property can cause damage, so be sure to check thoroughly to avoid nasty surprises down the line.

Understanding the Laws and Tenant Rights

As a landlord, it's important to know the differences between service animals, ESAs, and pets because of legal reasons. Following these laws helps avoid problems and builds good relationships with your tenants. Landlords need to respect tenants with disabilities while also having clear rules for pets.

Being Compliant and Inclusive

Landlords should learn about ADA and FHA laws to make sure they're doing the right thing and to avoid being accused of discrimination. It's good to welcome tenants with service animals or ESAs, understanding how important these animals are to their owners.

Landlord 101: Understanding Support Animals

To sum up, knowing the difference between service animals, support animals, and pets involves understanding legal duties and rights.

Dealing with animals in rentals is about being fair, legal, and kind. Landlords with this knowledge can create a positive living space for everyone, making their properties feel more like communities.

Here at PMI Wichita, we understand the importance of great real estate asset management around animals and beyond. For over 20 years, our friendly team has been helping landlords throughout the Wichita, Kansas area get the most out of their properties. Contact us today to see how we can help you.