Renting Laws and Service Dogs

What’s A Dog Doing In A “No Pets” Apartment Building?
Renting Laws and Service Dogs
A common question coming from renters is, “Can I have a service dog here?”
This question is a lot more complicated than one might think, and should be answered by a qualified attorney. Basically, there are Federal Laws that may protect people with disabilities such as the Fair Housing Amendments Act, Section 504 of the Rehab Act, and the Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. But, not all rental housing is covered by a disability law. You may need an attorney to determine whether or not your landlord is exempt from these laws.

There are exceptions to the laws on renting to a person with a service dog. These exceptions are (1) Buildings in which the landlord lives in one of the four (or less) units in the building, (2) Private owners owning less than three single family houses, and (3) Public housing or Section 8 housing.
The owner of a service animal also has certain rights as their dog is not a pet. However, it is imperative that the landlord is notified from the start that you have a service dog.
When the landlord has a “no pets” policy in place, you will most assuredly be required to submit a letter requesting the landlord to make an exception to the “no pets” rule. Here is a sample of the type of letter you will need.

I am considering renting an apartment at xxxxx. I have a disability, and own a service animal as defined Under the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (42 U.S.C. 3601, et seq.). Abby, my service dog, is trained to open doors and retrieve items I cannot retrieve for myself.
The Fair Housing Amendments Act requires that landlords modify “no pets” policies or policies restricting types of pets to permit trained service animals to reside with their disabled handlers. I am therefore requesting that you modify those rules to permit me to have my trained service dog reside with me.
I have attached verification from my doctor that I am disabled and use a service animal.
Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to receiving your reply.

As in all positions, there is a right way and a wrong way to handle a situation. Start with notifying the prospective landlord that you have a service dog. Then, provide the necessary documentation that may be required. You and your dog will then be guaranteed a happy home together.
For more information on housing and service animals, contact All County NEO Property Management: 330-348-5200.

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