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Ensuring Fair Housing for Assistance Animals: A Guide for Property Managers

As a property management company, it’s essential to understand the laws and guidelines surrounding assistance animals in rental properties. Service animals, also known as assistance animals, are more than just pets and require specific accommodations under the law. This article will guide property owners through understanding assistance animals, their responsibilities, and the rights they have concerning such animals.

Understanding Assistance Animals

Assistance animals are specially trained companions that provide various services to their owners. They may help with anxiety, PTSD, or have practical roles such as seeing-eye dogs. These animals are essential for their owners’ well-being and warrant unique considerations.


Fair Housing and Assistance Animals

The Fair Housing Act offers guidance for property owners, renters, and others involved in the rental process. According to the Humane Society, property owners must make “reasonable accommodations” for assistance animals in all situations. Property owners cannot set weight or size restrictions or require proof of certification/training for these animals. Although there’s no limit to the number of service animals a tenant may have, property owners can set restrictions based on what’s necessary for the tenant’s full use and enjoyment of the unit, as outlined by the Nevada Disability Advocacy and Law Center.


Property Manager Responsibilities

Property managers must consider the following when dealing with assistance animals:

  1. Waive pet-related fees
  2. Waive exclusionary rules related to pets/animals

However, limitations can be set based on an animal’s history, such as biting or posing a threat to neighbors.

Property owners and managers also have rights in these situations. They can: 

  1. Warn and evict an owner if a service animal threatens neighbors.
  2. Charge tenants for repairs or replacements if a service animal damages the property.
  3. Request an assistance animal’s health records.

Service Animals vs. Emotional Support Animals

Although service animals are protected under the Fair Housing Act, Nevada fair housing laws also apply to “emotional support animals.” These animals are classified the same as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and require reasonable accommodations under the Fair Housing Act.

Differentiating between service animals, emotional support animals, and pets can be challenging, especially since no certification or training is needed for these animals. Property owners can request a signed note from a physician attesting to a tenant’s need for a service or support animal, with the animal’s role directly related to the individual’s disability.

The Benefits of Hiring a Professional Property Manager

Navigating the complexities of assistance and emotional support animals can be challenging for property owners. That’s why it’s crucial to work with an experienced property manager who understands the Fair Housing Act, Nevada’s fair housing laws, and the importance of equal housing opportunities. Reach out to us and learn more.

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