Q: I do not allow pets in my apartments. I have a tenant who is claiming that her cat is a therapy animal and she says that she is entitled to a reasonable accommodation. Do I have to let her keep the cat?
A: Yes, a landlord must work with a disabled tenant to make reasonable accommodations. If your tenant has a note from a doctor saying that he or she requires a pet for a condition that is considered a disability, then you must comply with her request. Remember, an emotional support animal is not considered a pet.
Q: My tenant told me she has a disability and is requesting a service animal as an accommodation. From her physical appearance, she does not appear disabled. Can I ask questions about the disability?
A: Yes, if your tenant has a disability that is not readily apparent or known, you may ask your tenant to provide reliable documentation of the disability and their need for a service animal. You may not ask the tenant to describe their disability to you or explain how the animal will assist them. If the tenant refuses to provide documentation for the necessity of a service animal, then depending on your lease, you may serve the tenant with a 3 Day to Perform Covenant or Quit to remove the pet. Please contact a Landlord/Tenant attorney prior to serving such notice.
Q: My tenant moved a pit-bull into her apartment and is now claiming that her pit-bull is an emotional support animal. I’m afraid this dog will be violent and cause damage to my property. Can I tell her she needs to get a different breed of dog?
A: No, you may not control the type of service dog the tenant has. In order to ask the tenant to remove the service dog, the dog must pose some objective threat that cannot be reasonably accommodated. For example, if the tenant’s pit-bull escapes from the unit and attacked another dog, then the dog would pose an objective threat and you could request the service animal be removed from the property.
Q: Can I charge my tenant a pet deposit, pet rent, or other fee if I allow the service animal? I have other tenants that have animals and they paid the fees.
A: No. Remember, a service animal is not considered a pet so you cannot charge the disabled tenant the same fees you would charge a tenant with a pet. Further, a request for accommodation of a service animal may not be unreasonably denied or conditioned on payment of a fee, deposit, or other terms and conditions applied to applicants.
Q: I have a tenant who has an emotional support dog. Multiple tenants have complained about the dog barking. I know I can’t give him notice to get rid of the dog, but is there something else I can do?
A: Yes, you may serve the tenant with a 3 Day Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit if your lease/rental agreement prohibits the tenants from disturbing surrounding tenants or causing a nuisance. The tenant is still responsible for complying with all provisions of the lease/rental agreement and cannot cause or allow a disturbance or nuisance.
Q: I have a weight limit of 20 pounds for all pets in my apartment complex. Can I apply this weight limit to service cats and dogs?
A: No, you cannot limit the weight of a service animal in accordance with your lease provisions or pet addendum. The service animal is not a pet so your regular rules regarding pets do not apply to the service animal. This includes all restrictions on weight, breed, and size of service animals.