Are Service Animals Pets?

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If you are a landlord then there is a strong likelihood that at some point in your ownership tenure that a tenant will have a service animal. It is important for you to know the rules around service animals and how they differ from pets.

Service Animals are not considered pets

It’s important to know that the government makes a strong distinction between service animals (and companion animals) and pets. This is in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Fair Housing Laws, both federally and within the State of Oregon.

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a service animal as a dog that is trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.

Companion animals, also known as emotional support animals or assistance animals, are similar to service animals but are not limited to just dogs. These are animals that provide emotional support for a tenant. These kinds of animals are protected under Fair Housing Laws.

Can you charge for service animals?

By law these are not pet, and because of that landlords cannot screen against or discriminate an applicant with a service animals, they cannot charge pet rent, nor can they impose higher security deposit requirements.

A landlord can, however, ask to see documentation of the tenant’s disability and the relationship between their support animal and their disability.

While pet rent and increased security deposits do not apply to these animals, the tenant is still subject to any additional damage that is caused by the animal that is above normal wear and tear.

As a management company we help to keep our Owner clients stay compliant with these laws. If any Owner mandates that we screen against support animals, we will council them that this puts us on the wrong side of the law and that it is grounds for immediate termination of our management agreement.