Saraland Landlord’s Guide to Pets, Service, and Companion Animals - Banner

More than half of the tenant pool in Saraland has at least one pet, and that’s why pet-friendly rental properties are likely to rent quickly and for more money. When you allow a tenant with a pet to move into your rental home, you’re not going to have to worry about vacancy. You can charge pet rent or a pet fee. 

However, a lot of landlords don’t like renting to pets. They prefer not to risk the property damage and liability that comes with animals. 

This is understandable and you can decide whether or not you want to allow pets. However, when it comes to service animals, emotional support animals, and companion animals – your options are limited. Those animals are not considered pets, and you have to allow an otherwise qualified tenant to move in with them. 

Service and Companion Animals Are Not Pets

Service animals, companion animals, and emotional support animals are not pets because in the eyes of the law, they are accommodations for people who have a physical, emotional, or intellectual disability. This means that you cannot deny an application or a tenant’s request to have a service animal or a companion animal, even if you have a strict no-pet policy.

The fact that these are not pets also affects what you can and cannot charge. You cannot charge a pet deposit or a pet fee when tenants have support animals. You cannot collect pet rent. 

Service Animals and Support Animals

Service animals and companion animals are similar in that they are both accommodations for people with disabilities. But, they also have nuances that you should understand when you’re renting out a property. 

Service animals are trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Examples of a service animal would be a Seeing Eye Dog or a Seizure Response Dog. These animals have credentials and are easily identified. They can be any breed, age, or size. They have been around for a long time, and most landlords understand their importance.

Emotional support animals or companion animals are a bit different. Sometimes they’re simply called therapy animals. These are often part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor or therapist. They provide companionship and sometimes they can treat depression and anxiety by providing comfort. These animals do not have any special training, however, and they are not considered service animals. 

There are different things you can ask for when it comes to these animals. If you’re unsure about your legal responsibilities, talk to a Saraland property management company. Making a mistake can be expensive. 

When a tenant has a service animal, you are not permitted to ask for documentation or certification. However, with a companion animal, you can ask to see the written treatment plan that prescribed the support animal. You are entitled to talk to the medical professional and to review their credentials and license. 

Protecting your Saraland Rental Property

apartmentWhen you allow pets, you should have a detailed pet policy in place to mitigate any damage and save yourself from risk and liability. With service and companion animals, you’re permitted to ask your tenants to keep their animal clean and safe, but there’s not much more you can do. The tenant is still responsible for the animal, and must clean up after it and ensure it behaves and isn’t a nuisance. 

If you’d like some help understanding the laws pertaining to service and companion animals, please contact us at IRBY Property Management. We understand the laws and the requirements, and we can help you stay compliant.