I KNOW that April only has 30 days and April is Fair Housing Month, but we started early. so don't miss a single day-get the rest at http://aptdynamics.com/blog-posts
- You MAY discriminate against pets…You don’t have to accept aggressive dog breeds, 120 pound beasts, iguanas, ferrets, pet pigs or pet monkeys. But you should be consistent. Refer to our aggressive breeds list, but also, meet the pet before the move in! If it is aggressive and mean, even if it’s a chihuahua, you don’t have to accept it! That said, a service animal is not a pet!
- And now the topic of service animals…We had to get to that sooner or later! You MAY discriminate against a pet, however, a service animal is not considered a pet. So for a service animal there is NO pet fee, NO pet rent, NO breed restrictions, and NO TYPICAL pet addendum.
That said, service pet owners have responsibilities too:
- They have to clean up waste just like other residents.
- Their animals are not allowed to damage the apartment
- If a prospect or resident advises they have a service animal, you MAY ask for proof of disability from the resident, BUT tread lightly. If the disability is obvious, don’t ask for proof! In that case, no proof is needed. In the absence of an obvious disability or obvious need for a service animal the law allows landlords to inquire about the disability or need for a service animal related to that disability. The applicant or resident is then required to supply acceptable documentation from a health care provider that demonstrates (1) the fact they have a disability and (2) the need of the service animal’s assistance for their disability. If in doubt, give your Regional a shout!
- There are Service Animals, and then there is a confusing list of other categories of animals that you may hear about: “Companion” animals, Therapy Animals and Emotional Support Animals…and they may or may not be Service animals. If a prospect or resident has one of these animals, and they do not have an obvious need for a Service animal, then ask for Proof of Disability (tomorrow’s tip explains those). If they can’t produce this documentation then the animal is treated as a pet in accordance with our pet policies. Even if the prospect or resident has a “Registered” and/or “Certified” Therapy or Emotional Support animal, they still need documentation that they NEED a Service animal. Please note, if the resident provides Proof of Disability and confirmation that the animal’s presence will ease the disability, treat it like a Service animal, NOT A PET!
In EVERY case, if the prospect or resident becomes argumentative about the situation, or accusing or threatening in ANY way, please refer them to the home office. Even offer to call us for them right then! Keep your kindness going above and beyond!
- According to HUD guidelines, if someone has a Service animal, and their disability is not obvious, you may ask for Proof of Disability. The proof should confirm that there is a disability, and ideally, that the Service animal will ease the disability and/or provide support to the person. Examples of accepted Proof of Disability forms come from:
- A doctor or other health care professional; or
- A support group (like Alcoholics Anonymous or similar organizations); or
- A non-medical service agency (perhaps groups like the MS Society or the Braille Institute); or
- A reliable third party in a position to know about the person’s disability and needs (like a case manager or a caregiver); or
- “Self-verification” (for instance, proof of receipt of Social Security Disability Income would suffice as self-verification of a disability…although additional verification of the disability-related need might still be necessary).