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Your Rights as a Renter with a Service Animal

Disabled Providence Renter in Wheelchair with Service DogIf you are a Providence renter and have a service or emotional support animal, it is advisable to learn your rights. Lots of renters are uninformed that they can keep a service or emotional support animal in their rental homes, irrespective of the property owner’s rules. This blog post will review the laws that protect renters who have service or emotional support animals. We will also give tips on communicating with your property owner if there is an issue with keeping your service or emotional support animal in your home.

What is a service or emotional support animal, and what rights do you have under the law?

Service animals are defined as animals trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities. These tasks can include but are not limited to guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, notifying and supporting a person who is having a seizure, or calming a person with post-traumatic stress disorder.

An emotional support animal doesn’t need to be trained to perform a specific service to provide benefits to its owners. Various companion animals can qualify as emotional support animals if you obtain a letter from your medical provider or therapist stating that you need the animal.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are allowed in public places, including rental homes. Emotional support animals are not protected under the ADA but are allowed in rental homes, even if a landlord has a “no pet” policy. Service and emotional support animals are not considered pets under the law, and therefore, property owners cannot charge pet fees or deposits for them.

How to handle deposits, fees, and other costs associated with having a service or emotional support animal.

If you have a service or emotional support animal, you are not supposed to pay any pet fees or deposits. Then again, you may be in charge of damages caused by your animal. For instance, if your animal chews on furniture or urinates on the flooring, or if you fail to pick up the animal’s waste, you will be charged for those repairs. You need to have a conversation with your property owner about your service or emotional support animal before signing a lease. This will greatly prevent misunderstandings about your rights and responsibilities as a renter.

Some landlords may require that you show proof of insurance for your service or emotional support animal. This is not required by law, but it is something you should be prepared to discuss with your Providence property manager.

What to do if your landlord tries to evict you for having a service or emotional support animal.

Suppose your landlord is trying to evict you (or refuses to rent to you) for having a service or emotional support animal. In that scenario, you may have grounds to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The department’s Civil Rights Division enforces the Fair Housing Act, which disallows discrimination in housing based on disability.

You can also file a complaint with your state’s attorney general’s office or the human rights commission. These agencies may evaluate your complaint and take legal action against your landlord if they discover that you have been discriminated against.

If you are experiencing eviction owing to your service or emotional support animal, it is recommended to seek legal help at the earliest opportunity. An experienced attorney can assist you in knowing your rights and options under the law.

Resources for further information on renters’ rights and service or emotional support animals.

For more information on your rights as a renter, you can contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD enforces the Fair Housing Act and can investigate complaints of discrimination in housing.

You can also find more information on service and emotional support animals at the ADA National Network website. The ADA National Network is a resource for information and technical emotional support on the Americans with Disabilities Act.

 

Recognizing your rights will allow you and your service or emotional support animal to live comfortably in your rental home. But if your landlord is trying to interfere with your rights, it might be time to move to a place managed by professionals who know and follow the law. Browse our listings for service animal-friendly rental homes in your area.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.