Property Management Blog

3 Things Cleveland Landlords Should Know About Support Animals

3 Things Cleveland Landlords Should Know About Support Animals

Over 44 million American households are renters. This means there has never been a better time to jump into the Cleveland real estate market. But being a landlord comes with a whole host of challenges you have to deal with.

Allowing animals into apartments is something many landlords are torn on, but when it comes to support animals, it isn't up to you to decide. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about real estate, support animals, and whether you should consider hiring Cleveland property managers.

1. Full Access

Support animals are viewed as medical tools. As such, they are exempt from any restrictions a landlord puts on a building. Moreover, support animals must be given full access to the building and apartment and cannot be charged pet rent.

Unlike pets, support animals are constantly working to ensure their handler is safe and can continue with their day-to-day lives. In other words, in the same way you cannot bar someone's entry because they use a cane or wheelchair, you cannot refuse to admit a support animal.

As a landlord, you may ask for documentation to prove that the animal is not just a pet. This documentation can come in various forms ranging from doctors' notes to documentation from a reliable third party. The documentation will simply include a letter describing the need for a support animal.

Unlike service animals, support animals don't need to be:

  • Registered
  • Certified
  • Trained

If you contact the person who issues the letter, you have to remember you cannot ask about the prospective tenant's medical history; you can only verify that the letter is authentic.

2. Housing Laws

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) exists to protect tenants with disabilities from discrimination when it comes to renting. This act also includes support animals, and it protects people's rights to keep their service or emotional support animal with them in rented spaces.

When it comes to service animals and emotional support animals, you may need to restructure your tenant and building policies. If a tenant that previously signed a no-animal clause requires a service or emotional support animal later on, then they are still allowed to bring them onto your property.

It's illegal to terminate a lease if your tenant brings a service or emotional support animal onto your property. That said, while you might not be sold on allowing pets in your rental properties, you have to allow support animals.

3. There Are Exceptions

While you have to accommodate support animals, there are a few exceptions to the rules. This is usually handled on a case-by-case basis, but exceptions include:

  • Exceptionally large companions like horses
  • Exotic animals
  • Undomesticated species
  • Animals with a history of harming other tenants

Support Animals 101

If you're a landlord wondering how to handle support animals, then know you're not alone. It can get confusing between service animals, emotional support animals, and general pets, but make sure you stay on the right side of the law.

If you need property managers in Cleveland, contact us today! We strive for the highest standard of worry-free property management and meet that goal every day. We are ready to work with you!