Service Animals (pet deposit, pet rent, service pet)

This is a discussion on Service Animals (pet deposit, pet rent, service pet) within the Landlord vs Tenant Issues forum, part of the REAL ESTATE & PROPERTY LAW category; We received a letter from a tenant today, in response to a letter we sent. It is regarding a cat. ...

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Old Jul 26th, 2010, 01:41 PM   #11
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Default Re: Service Animals (pet deposit, pet rent, service pet)

We received a letter from a tenant today, in response to a letter we sent. It is regarding a cat. The letter stated that his son was autistic and that the cat has been trained to work with the kid.



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Old Sep 2nd, 2011, 10:25 AM   #12
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Exclamation you cannot charge pet rent for assistance or service animals

whether or not that particular cat is trained is irrelevant. the tenant simply needs to get a letter stating that the animals is an emotional support animal and needed.
Then it becomes an assistance animal or service animal and any rental home HAS to allow it and CANNOT charge a 'pet rent'. I have to say that this woman's child has autism! give her a BREAK! anyway!

here is some information about assistance animals in case you are clueless:

Advocates and professionals have recognized the benefits of assistive animals for people with physical disabilities, including seeing eye dogs or hearing dogs who are trained to perform simple tasks such as carrying notes and alerting their owners to oncoming traffic or other environmental hazards. Recent research suggests that people with psychiatric disabilities can benefit significantly from assistive animals as well. Emotional support animals have been proven extremely effective at ameliorating the symptoms of these disabilities, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, by providing therapeutic nurture and support.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2011, 10:31 AM   #13
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Default Re: Service Animals (pet deposit, pet rent, service pet)

What happened to humans providing the therapeutic nurture and support? We rely on base animals who cannot and do not share our complex emotional makeup? Sick.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2011, 10:36 PM   #14
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Default Re: Service Animals (pet deposit, pet rent, service pet)

A service animal is NOT a companion animal.

Many people have a clause in their lease agreement about no pets. Sometimes, LLs want to be flexible so the lease will state: "Pet accepted on a case by case basis with non-refundable fee of $350.00 and if pet meets with owner approval." (this way, no one can sneak in a pit bull).

HOWEVER a service animal is NOT considered a pet, so I don't know of this non-refundable fee would be legal, or even legal in your state.

A service animal does a specific service for the disabled individual, such as fetch the phone, alert the individual to when the door bell rings, pick up something that the individual has dropped and place it back in their lap, etc. Service animals include dogs, monkeys, and yes, ponies.

As for a cat being a necessity for an autist, and let me yell this, I HAVE NEVER, IN MY 40 YEARS AS A SPECIAL ED TEACHER WORKING WITH AUTISTIC STUDENTS, EVER, HEARD OF A CAT BEING TRAINED TO WORK WITH AN AUTISTIC "KID" OR ANY OTHER DISABLED OR HANDICAPPED CHILD OR YOUNG ADULT.

I think you're getting a snow job, imnsho. You may want to google some specifics.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2011, 10:48 PM   #15
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Default Re: Service Animals (pet deposit, pet rent, service pet)

How long have you had these tenants?

So now all of a sudden, the cat is a legal *service* animal? But only because you "caught" them with having a cat?

They paid a pet deposit and pet rent, but NOW the cat is a service animal?

Most, if not all, cats generally cannot be trained to do much more than accept humans in their lives as bringers of food and toys, the latter of which they will either ignore or play with the bag or box that housed the toy.

Something is very very fishy here.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2011, 10:57 AM   #16
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Default Re: Service Animals (pet deposit, pet rent, service pet)

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How long have you had these tenants?

So now all of a sudden, the cat is a legal *service* animal? But only because you "caught" them with having a cat?

They paid a pet deposit and pet rent, but NOW the cat is a service animal?

Most, if not all, cats generally cannot be trained to do much more than accept humans in their lives as bringers of food and toys, the latter of which they will either ignore or play with the bag or box that housed the toy.

Something is very very fishy here.
Exactly. Cats cannot be trained. They simply don't possess that type of nature. Dogs yes. Cats no.

I agree that the tenants are blowing smoke in order to try to keep the cat without having to pay.
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Old Nov 9th, 2011, 12:29 AM   #17
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Default Re: Service Animals (pet deposit, pet rent, service pet)

ESAs (Emotional Support Animals) and SDs (Service Dogs) are not pets, they are medical assistive devices. The HUD has answered the question of whether fees may be charged for SDs in response to a question about fees being paid by certain funds - HUDHRE.info -- FAQs

And - here is information about whether deposits can be charged and if the type of animal can be restricted (dangerous/unlawful animals excepted - think tiger or cobra). Questions and Answers about Fair Housing

For those who don't want to read for themselves - as long as the tenant mentioned by the OP provides medical documentation (i.e. a letter from the doctor) that the cat (or an animal in general) is needed, then it is not subject to pet deposits, pet rent, or other fees. However, if the animal causes damage beyond normal wear and tear, then the tenant is required to pay for the damage.

Cats can be trained - my oldest cat comes when called every time (whether by name or by a special signal) and he's trained to go under the covers and lay next to me when I lie down, lift the covers, and pat the bed. Cats can be clicker trained to perform tricks - if you're remotely interested in the possibility check out Karen Pryor's clicker training for cats.
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Old Nov 9th, 2011, 03:02 PM   #18
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Default Re: Service Animals (pet deposit, pet rent, service pet)

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ESAs (Emotional Support Animals) and SDs (Service Dogs) are not pets, they are medical assistive devices. The HUD has answered the question of whether fees may be charged for SDs in response to a question about fees being paid by certain funds - HUDHRE.info -- FAQs

And - here is information about whether deposits can be charged and if the type of animal can be restricted (dangerous/unlawful animals excepted - think tiger or cobra). Questions and Answers about Fair Housing

For those who don't want to read for themselves - as long as the tenant mentioned by the OP provides medical documentation (i.e. a letter from the doctor) that the cat (or an animal in general) is needed, then it is not subject to pet deposits, pet rent, or other fees. However, if the animal causes damage beyond normal wear and tear, then the tenant is required to pay for the damage.

Cats can be trained - my oldest cat comes when called every time (whether by name or by a special signal) and he's trained to go under the covers and lay next to me when I lie down, lift the covers, and pat the bed. Cats can be clicker trained to perform tricks - if you're remotely interested in the possibility check out Karen Pryor's clicker training for cats.
While this post was rather amusing in nature (what cat doesn't exhibit that behavior without even needing to be 'trained'?) it takes the topic off point.

The original question was can the landlord charge a pet fee? The answer is to require actual supportive evidence that cats are "trained" to "work with" autistic people.

Due to the nature of autism and all I know about it, I would find this letter from the tenant rather suspect. Before allowing the pet I'd require the tenant show concrete evidence that a cat actually is a therapy animal of sorts. It's always prudent to know the facts.
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Old Nov 9th, 2011, 07:07 PM   #19
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Default Re: Service Animals (pet deposit, pet rent, service pet)

If the place is NOT a HUD unit, then the pet is a companion animal and no matter what the doctor writes on his little Rx pad, IF the LL permits pets, the LL may charge a pet fee AND increase the rent to cover the additional "occupant"--this of course, depends on your state and city etc, but generally, that's the way it is.

A companion animal is different from a SERVICE animal.

What if someone wanted his companion animal to be a 200 lb pot bellied pig? They can be way smarter and better trained than a feline. Is the LL then obligated by law to accept this? NO I say.
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Old Nov 9th, 2011, 10:38 PM   #20
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Default Re: Service Animals (pet deposit, pet rent, service pet)

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If the place is NOT a HUD unit, then the pet is a companion animal and no matter what the doctor writes on his little Rx pad, IF the LL permits pets, the LL may charge a pet fee AND increase the rent to cover the additional "occupant"--this of course, depends on your state and city etc, but generally, that's the way it is.

A companion animal is different from a SERVICE animal.

What if someone wanted his companion animal to be a 200 lb pot bellied pig? They can be way smarter and better trained than a feline. Is the LL then obligated by law to accept this? NO I say.
Correct.

Unless it's legally specified in state law what constitutes as a service animal and what criteria the housing is, expect to pay a pet fee.

While some cats are considered "therapy pets" for autistic children, they are by no means necessary for the physical orientation to one's surroundings. A blind person with a seeing eye dog would fall under the category of being protected by the service pet allowance but not for all types of housing.

Check with your state housing and service animal laws if in doubt.
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