When is a pet not a pet? When it’s a service animal.
What Qualifies as a Service Animal?
If a prospective tenant calls you and says they have a service animal and would like to apply for your property, be careful. You can ask for written verification or documentation that it is a service animal unless the disability is easily seen. If the person is blind or deaf or in a wheelchair, you don’t necessarily have to ask for written verification. But, if it’s not obvious, you can ask for that documentation. This verification can be from a doctor that states the disability and explains the need for a service animal. It can be a letter or something from a support group, like AA. It can be from a non-medical agency like the Braille Institute. It could be self-provided as well. A letter from a disability organization that proves the tenant is on disability would establish a need for that service animal as well.
Include a Lease Addendum
Just because it’s a service animal doesn’t mean that you can’t include an addendum to your lease. Service animals are still expected to behave in a certain way and not damage your property. So, you can have the tenant sign that addendum and agree to abide by your rules and regulations.
Assistance animals should be approved unless you worry they will be dangerous or illegal. Some homeowners associations may not allow certain breeds, but you have to be careful. This is not a pet. It’s something that’s providing a service to your tenant.
Be careful with these definitions, and make sure you know how to distinguish between a pet and a service animal. If you need any help with this topic or with property management in Hayward, CA, please contact us at Aapex Property Management.