What Are Your Rights When It Involves Your Apartment’s Pet Policy? | Real Estate


Most pet owners will say that their beloved pet is an element of their family, but for those who rent an apartment, condo or house, you might be subject to a number of rules on the subject of pet ownership.

“Companion animals provide us with a lot and are integral family members for many Americans,” says Katie Jarl, director of presidency affairs and policy at American Pets Alive!. “And for those with disabilities or special needs, these animals are actual lifesavers and awarded special protections under the law.”

Housing and rental restrictions are the leading causes for people to be forced to separate from their pets, Jarl says, making it essential for pet owners to know their rights, especially those with service animals and support animals. “It’s something that we want to tackle from a national perspective,” Jarl adds.

Here’s what it’s worthwhile to learn about your rights on the subject of your apartment’s pet policy.

  • Apartment pet policies.
  • What are your rights on the subject of service animals and support animals?
  • Can a landlord deny a service animal or support animal?
  • Talking to your landlord about your pet.

Apartment Pet Policies

Pet policies are conditions inside rental leases that stipulate the terms for tenants and their pets. These policies lay out the principles for the owner and the tenant on the subject of expectations and responsibilities surrounding pet ownership inside the rental unit. Because your lease is legally binding, reading your lease and understanding these conditions is crucial.

Standard guidelines inside apartment pet policies include:

  • Breed restrictions. Many apartments implement breed restrictions to avoid liability and potential damage to the property. Some insurance firms may additionally require breed restrictions before they are going to insure a multifamily constructing. Common dog breeds prohibited on rental properties include pit bulls, German shepherds and Rottweilers.
  • Variety of pet allowed. The apartment constructing may allow cats and dogs, however the pet policy could restrict different kinds of pets like reptiles or birds.
  • Variety of pets. Most apartment pet policies limit the variety of pets to at least one or two inside each unit.
  • Weight restrictions. Some policies may include a weight limit, which could also rule out many breeds of dogs. Larger dogs could pose a risk to the apartment, plus, there’s also noise to contemplate. Most apartments that restrict dogs by their weight normally won’t allow any heavier than 25 kilos.
  • Pet deposit and pet rent amount. The owner could impose fees related to pet ownership inside the unit, corresponding to an upfront deposit and a “pet rent” amount added to your monthly rent.
  • No-pet policy. There may even be a no-pet clause inside the lease. Which means no companion animals are allowed inside the unit. Nevertheless, there are exceptions for service animals and emotional support animals under federal law.

If vital, landlords and housing facilities must allow service dogs and emotional support animals to continue to exist the premises if a tenant has a disability-related need.

What Are Your Rights When It Involves Service Animals and Support Animals?

“The federal Fair Housing Act protects tenants of most professionally managed units and requires that landlords make reasonable accommodations for not only specially trained ‘service’ dogs but in addition ‘support’ animals that assist with a physical or mental disability,” says Christopher Berry, managing attorney on the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “The Fair Housing Act applies to most but not all rental units so it’s vital to find out whether it even applies.”

Service animals are also protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. “A service animal is defined by the ADA as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability and people tasks should be directly related to an individual’s disability,” Jarl explains.

Per the Fair Housing Act, breed and weight restrictions don’t apply to service animals or emotional support animals. Moreover, Jarl says that landlords cannot charge a tenant extra pet rent or pet deposits for service or emotional support animals.

Can a Landlord Deny a Service Animal or Support Animal?

In line with ServiceDogCertifications.org, landlords have the precise to disclaim accommodation when the animal exhibits dangerous, unsafe or destructive behavior. Certain smaller landlords, corresponding to owner-occupied buildings with not more than 4 units and single-family houses sold or rented by the owner without the usage of an agent, are also exempt from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s assistance animal rules.

But for those who are denied, Jarl encourages one and all in that situation to succeed in out to either a national or state-based Disability Rights Legal Center. An alternative choice is to file a grievance through the HUD. There’s even a piece on the HUD website where you possibly can file a grievance against the owner denying you those rights.

“I at all times recommend that any person who’s denied reach out to considered one of those legal centers to receive the legal help that they should work with the owner and make certain that their service or support animal is allowed of their housing,” Jarl says.

Talking To Your Landlord About Your Pet

In line with Berry, landlords are required to permit service animals, but it surely’s as much as the owner as as to whether or not they need to allow companion animals. “Local or state tenants’ associations and legal aid societies often have resources explaining applicable laws, which may help guide a tenant through the approval process,” Berry says.

For companion animals, The Humane Society of america recommends finding rental housing that welcomes all pets. While this will be difficult, you possibly can increase your probabilities of success by giving yourself enough time to look for housing, researching animal-friendly listings and reaching out to family, friends, networking sites or social media.

You can too consult with the owner about your companion animal they usually could also be willing to make an exception, even in the event that they don’t meet weight or breed restrictions.

However, if you’ve got a service or emotional support animal, you technically don’t should disclose this information on the rental application because of privacy laws. Nevertheless, Jarl says that the owner should still ask for a certification to prove that your animal is a service animal or an emotional support animal. That is information she suggests prospective tenants have handy to present in the event that they’re renting a recent place.

ServiceDogCertifications.org says that landlords can confirm a service dog by asking two questions: Is the dog a service dog required for a disability? What work or task has the job been trained to perform? These questions can only be asked if the disability-related need for the animal will not be readily apparent. Also, landlords can never insist upon any documentation corresponding to ID cards, registrations or certificates.

Nevertheless, ServiceDogCertifications.org adds that emotional support animals require a signed letter from a licensed health care skilled corresponding to a therapist, doctor or counselor. These letters are often known as ESA letters and landlords are entitled to depend on them as verification of the tenant’s need for an emotional support animal.

Prospective tenants with pets also needs to concentrate on federal and native laws on the subject of what’s and what isn’t allowed. “Tenants with companion, service or support animals should familiarize themselves with their rights under federal, state and native laws in order that they will make an informed decision about how best to approach their landlord,” Berry says.