World Class Property Management.

Your Property. Our Priority.

Spokane Property Management Blog

Understanding the Law about Support Animals In Rental Properties

Home River Group - Spokane - Tuesday, April 26, 2022
Property Management Blog

Do you understand the laws about support animals in rental properties? They are not the same as service animals. If you're thinking about allowing pets on your rental property, you will be faced with a decision about support animals.

The laws surrounding support animals are changing. By reading this article, you can make sure your rental property is compliant. You may need to make accommodations for them in your rental property.

Making sure your rental property is compliant with current laws can be difficult. Allow us to help you by providing you with all the information you need in one place. This way, you can focus on other aspects of your business.

So what's the difference between support animals and service animals? And how do you accommodate them according to renters laws in Washington? Keep reading to learn about everything you need to follow the Fair Housing Act.

Support Animals vs. Service Animals

Some people might confuse the term "service animal" with "emotional support animal." But there is a significant distinction between these two types of animals.

The main difference between a support animal and a service animal is training. Service animals train hard to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Support animals only need a document from a doctor.

Service Animals

Service animals complete expensive training to do specific tasks for their disabled handler.

Service animals assist with health issues or disabilities. Examples are guide dogs and seizure response dogs. Some even perform psychiatric tasks such as reminding their handler to take medication.

Service animals are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They are allowed in public places even if there is a "no pets" policy.

Landlords must make reasonable accommodations for service animals. They must allow the animal in the rental unit and make sure common areas are accessible.

Support Animals

Support animals provide emotional support but are not trained to do tasks. They are there to support their handlers with their presence.

People with depression, anxiety, or PTSD may have a support animal. They must get a document from their doctor to have a certified emotional support animal. But the animal does not have to go through any training.

Because they do not need training, support animals are not protected under the ADA. But, support animals are protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). That means landlords must make reasonable accommodations in rental units.

Support Animals in Rental Properties

The FHA prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants with disabilities. This includes refusing to make reasonable accommodations for support animals.

Under the FHA, support animals are not considered pets. That means landlords cannot charge pet fees or require a pet security deposit. They cannot apply any "no pets" policies to support animals.

If you're unsure if an animal is a support animal, ask the tenant for documentation from a doctor. A doctor must provide a document stating that the animal is necessary for the disability.

Landlords can't ask for any other documentation, such as training certificates or proof of vaccinations. You also can't require that the support animal have specific training or behavior.

Stay in Compliance with Fair Housing Laws

If you need help with housing laws, contact our property management team in Spokane. Support animals can be a confusing topic, but we can help you understand and comply with the law.

We'll make sure your rental property is up to code and help you avoid any costly Fair Housing violations. Contact us today to learn more.