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Emotional Support Animals: Understanding Their Rental Rights

System - Tuesday, May 24, 2022
Property Management Blog

Emotional support animals: they're growing in numbers. A few short years ago, no one was familiar with the term. Now, there are over 200,000 emotional support animals in the country.

What is an emotional support animal? An emotional support animal is any animal that provides comfort or a sense of safety to individuals with disabilities or emotional needs. The real question is, what impact do these animals have on your rental properties?

Many landlords and property owners find themselves confused when faced with a potential tenant who has an emotional support animal. Can they say no if their properties are pet-free?

Read on to learn more about emotional support animals in Kansas city rental properties. As always, we're here to help you stay on top of your property management.

Do Property Owners Have the Right to Say No to Emotional Support Animals?

Let's say that you own a pet-free property. When someone with a cat or a dog applies to live in your pet-free property, you say no. What if the applicant doesn't have a "pet" and instead has an emotional support animal?

Emotional support dogs, cats, and other species are protected under the Fair Housing Act. Because this is a federal act, it does apply to Kansas landlords. In other words, you can't deny a tenant's right to own an emotional support animal in your pet-free property.

It is also important to note that you can't charge a pet fee, whether or not you do allow pets on your property. Can you protect your property from potential damage caused by the emotional support animal? You can keep part or all of your tenant's security deposit to cover damage caused by the emotional support animal in the event that it does cause damage.

Do Property Owners Have the Right to Ask for Proof?

How are you to know if a dog is truly an emotional support animal? While emotional support animals don't undergo specific training like service dogs, they do require credentials. These credentials must come from a medical or psychiatric professional.

If a tenant has an emotional support animal, you are allowed to ask for these credentials. The credentials will come in the form of a letter written and signed by a medical or psychiatric professional. You may contact this professional if you so choose.

However, there are important limitations on what you can and can't ask. You cannot ask why your tenant requires the assistance of an emotional support animal. This is in violation of their right to privacy regarding medical history and medical records.

Don't Defy Tenant Rights in Kansas City

As a property owner, it's crucial that you don't defy your tenants' rights. It is not lawful to prohibit the ownership of emotional support animals on your property, even if you don't allow pets on a typical basis.

Staying on top of landlord and tenant rights isn't easy. That's why the Home River Group is here to offer our assistance. Contact us to find out more about how we can help you to manage your properties in Kansas City.