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Posted by
Amore Onyung

Can a landlord legally charge a pet deposit for a service animal?

A client of mine is about to lease a home and has a service dog due to a disability. Can the landlord charge a pet deposit for that animal? I am seeing conflicting information online and would like to clarify. Thanks!

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Can a landlord legally charge a pet deposit for a service animal?

By Amore Onyung   
Posted on Feb 05, 2019 in Topic: Property Management
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A client of mine is about to lease a home and has a service dog due to a disability. Can the landlord charge a pet deposit for that animal? I am seeing conflicting information online and would like to clarify. Thanks!
Status: Open
Viewed: 401
Asked by: REALTORS®
Posted: 2 weeks ago
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Silver
Yvonne Chauvin
about 2 weeks ago
Hi Amre,

Paragraph 9.A. of TAR's Residential Lease Agreement clearly states that a service animal is not considered a pet, therefore "pet" deposit does not apply.
Thank you,

Yvonne Chauvin- REALTOR
Better Homes and Gardens Gary Greene Real Estate


about 2 weeks ago
Bronze
Tenzesta Smith
about 2 weeks ago
(Reasonable Accommodation Requests) Service animals are not treated as pets under the law. Because they are not pets, residents with a disability who have a service animal are not required to pay a pet deposit or other associated pet fees and service animals are not subject to type, breed, weight, and size restrictions established by the property's tenant selection and eligibility criteria. http://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/fair-housing/renters.htm The tenant MUST have a disability that warrants a service animal and if the disability or need for accommodation is not obvious or readily known the landlord may request verifiable proof of need. There are some exception of granting the accommodation - but not on the deposit if acknowledge as service animal --- consult the link for more detail - Hope that helps and best regards


Source:


http://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/fair-housing/renters.htm

about 2 weeks ago
Gold
Holly Montalbano
about 2 weeks ago
Yvonne is correct. A service dog is not a pet. If the animal is certified as a service dog, I would not want to be the one to challange the person's need for the service dog. If it's a service dog and has a card. it can't be treated as a pet or charged a deposit.


about 2 weeks ago
Bronze
Sharon Miller
about 2 weeks ago
If your animal has been registered as a “service animal”, you should not be required to pay a deposit. However, the law also states, “A request for a service animal may be denied, however, if there is reliable, objective evidence that an assistance animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others”. I would suggest having a conversation with the landlord prior to moving in or as soon as you receive the animal. Provide clear documents that your animal is a registered service animal, get the landlords stamp of approval. Keep this document handy or posted in case it is needed.


about 2 weeks ago
Bronze
J. Lindsey
about 2 weeks ago
No.


about 2 weeks ago
Bronze
Antonio Lechuga
about 2 weeks ago
A housing provider may not charge a pet fee for an assistance animal. These animals are not pets and cannot be subject to pet fees. However you are still financially responsible for your service animal and any injuries or damages it might cause.

HUD says:

Conditions and restrictions that housing providers apply to pets may not be applied to assistance animals. For example, while housing providers may require applicants or residents to pay a pet deposit, they may not require applicants and residents to pay a deposit for an assistance animal

Keep in mind, though, that while your service animal may be exempt from pet deposits, you are still financially responsible for any damages beyond normal wear and tear to the residence.

(FHEO Notice: FHEO-2013-01 at page 3). Most disability law experts feel that requiring a deposit would be the equivalent of charging an advance damage deposit for someone in a wheelchair. While a landlord may be able to recoup reasonable fees for damage done after the fact by the tenant and his or her emotional support animal, an initial security deposit may go against the purpose of the Fair Housing Act.


Source:


https://www.animallaw.info/article/faqs-emotional-support-animals\n\n

about 2 weeks ago
Gold
Mark McNitt
about 2 weeks ago
It may depend if the animal is a service animal (typically a dog) or an emotional support animal. Different rules also if related to ADA (American with Disabilities Act) are enforced VS other regulations. I think in general terms, the answer is NO, but they would be charged for any damages caused by the animal.

Realtors cannot give legal advice to their clients so these are just suggestions. Speak to your broker on how to proceed and have your client reach out to an attorney.

Mark McNitt
MarkKnowsHouston
832-567-4357
Bernstein Realty


about 2 weeks ago
Bronze
LaWanda Lendsey
about 2 weeks ago
No, they would have to deal with ADA. Have your landlord look over the general information concerning assistance animals a TAR form and also if someone with a service animal applies there is another TAR form the landlord signs requesting information from a physician that this animal is necessary to aid in the person's disability. Landlords have to consider reasonable accommodations and check with their insurance and see what their insurance policy has on service animals especially of they are an aggressive breed. Most of those dogs are at work not at play, highly trained. We discuss all of that in Legal Update I in detail. Check out Knowledge Is Power Real Estate Education Facebook page and follow. La'Wanda Lendsey, CREI
#RealEstateInstructor
Be blessed


about 2 weeks ago
Bronze
Grant Rothberg
about 2 weeks ago
Amore,

Assuming the animal meets the legal definition of service animal (see sources below for more), pet deposits and fees do not apply. For each specific case, you may want to consult with an attorney as real estate agents are prohibited from the practice of law.

Law relating to rentals can be complicated, so I'd recommend checking out the Landlords and Tenants Guide published by Texas A&M (link below) for information about this and many other issues. The state bar association also has a nice little pamphlet about tenant rights.

Hope that helps!

Grant Rothberg
Rothberg Realty Group w/Keller Williams Houston Preferred
832-657-6420
grant@rothbergrealtygroup.com


Source:


Government ADA Info: https://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm\n\nLandlords and Tenants Guide: https://assets.recenter.tamu.edu/documents/articles/866.pdf\n\nTenant Rights Pamphlet: https://www.depts.ttu.edu/sls/forms/Tenants-Rights-Handbook.pdf

about 2 weeks ago
Diamond
Veronica Mullenix
about 2 weeks ago
"An assistance animal is not considered a pet." This statement is found on page 3 in paragraph 9.A. of the TAR Residential Lease contract. There is a clear distinction between what is a "pet" and what is not a pet in our TAR Residential Lease. A pet deposit is only required for a "pet", as defined in paragraph 9.


about 2 weeks ago
Bronze
Ellen Burton
about 6 days ago
Definitely not. A service animal is not considered a "pet". Therefore a pet deposit cannot be charged for a service animal. Feel free to reach out to me for any other information. - "Sellin' with Ellen"


about 6 days ago
Disclaimer: Answers provided are just opinions and should not be accepted as advice.
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