Author Topic: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property  (Read 1434 times)

kenmoremmm

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Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« on: May 30, 2018, 09:58:18 PM »
We have a person who's interested in renting a condo unit of ours (1bd, 1ba). She has an ESA. I've now learned that ESA's are basically the ultimate trump card when it comes to superseding whatever policies one might have had with their rental lease agreement. I looked on biggerpockets and saw some long threads about the topic. Some proposed adding an Animal Addendum (not a Pet Addendum) to the lease. Below is what we have come up with. Is it good enough? Can it be improved? Does it stand up against a lawsuit in the event the ESA trashes the place and we need to go to small claims, or if the ESA is loud and not suited for the condo and we need to evict?

LEASE ADDENDUM - ANIMAL POLICY
*ALL TENANTS MUST READ & SIGN THIS ADDENDUM*
The purpose of this addendum is to convey the terms and conditions regarding animals at XXXXXXXX and must be signed by all tenants when adding an animal. Animals are not permitted unless this addendum is completed, agreed upon, and signed by both Tenant and Landlord. 

Tenant agrees to read and comply with the Animal Rules listed below.

Tenant understands that any recurring complaint or notice received regarding the animal(s) is considered a violation of the Lease and may result in immediate removal of the animal(s) and/or lease termination and forfeiture of security deposit; whichever Landlord deems necessary. Tenant also understands that no animals are permitted to visit or temporarily be boarded in the Lease Property; doing so would also be considered a lease violation and subject to immediate removal of animal and/or lease termination.
 
I have read, understand, and agree to all the terms and conditions described in this Animal Policy agreement.
________________________________ __________________________________ _________________
Tenant Name (Please Print)          Tenant Signature          Date ________________________________ __________________________________ _________________
Tenant Name (Please Print)          Tenant Signature          Date

ANIMAL RULES INSTRUCTIONS:
The following rules, restrictions, and obligations apply to all Tenants. By affixing your signature to this agreement, Tenant acknowledges that you have read, understand, and agree to the following:
1. No loud or noisy animals including excessive barking, jumping, scratching, whining, or any other sound
2. No vicious or dangerous animals are permitted. Tenant must be able to maintain control over the animal at all times
3. Animal shall be restrained at all times when not in apartment. Unsupervised and/or unrestrained animals in any common area are strictly prohibited
4. Animal shall be properly maintained, licensed, and inoculated as required by local, county, or state statute, ordinance, or health code
5. Animal shall display owner identification and current inoculation tags at all times
6. Any odor resulting from any animal is considered a nuisance and is strictly prohibited
7. Tenant assumes all responsibility and is strictly liable for any and all amount of any injury to any person or property as a result of the animal or its’ actions and Tenant shall indemnify Landlord for all costs of litigation and attorney’s fees resulting from the same
8. All food and water bowls must be placed on a protective/plastic floor covering
9. All litter boxes must be placed on a protective/plastic floor covering and maintained in a proper and sanitary condition
10. Used litter will be double bagged and disposed of in the nearest outdoor trash receptacle and NOT disposed of down the toilet regardless of product’s claim of “flushability”
11. No animal is permitted to urinate or defecate on any unprotected floor
12. Tenant agrees to clean up after dog(s) immediately and properly dispose of all waste into nearest outdoor trash receptacle
13. Tenant may not abandon the animal or leave it for an extended period of time
14. No “visiting” or temporary boarding of animals
15. No animal will be permitted to disturb the health, safety, rights, comfort, quite or peaceful enjoyment of other tenants
16. Tenant understands that this list is subject to change as deemed necessary by the Landlord. Tenant will be notified of changes and asked to resign or initial


Jon Bon

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Re: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2018, 07:59:46 AM »
Posting to follow,

But ESA are basically bullshit. I come across them pretty often, and they are never anything more then a Pet. Sure you want to talk about service animals, yes completely agree, and lets have a conversation. However, when it comes to ESA I can't get on board.

A little (made up) math here:

Pets reduce stress, provide companionship, and increase happiness
ESA reduce stress, provide companionship, and increase happiness

There by all pets are ESA. Landlords are basically forced to accept pets with zero recourse.

SO yeah this needs to be challenged in the courts. ADA has gone too far here.


Jon Bon

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Re: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2018, 08:04:07 AM »
We have a person who's interested in renting a condo unit of ours (1bd, 1ba). She has an ESA. I've now learned that ESA's are basically the ultimate trump card when it comes to superseding whatever policies one might have had with their rental lease agreement. I looked on biggerpockets and saw some long threads about the topic. Some proposed adding an Animal Addendum (not a Pet Addendum) to the lease. Below is what we have come up with. Is it good enough? Can it be improved? Does it stand up against a lawsuit in the event the ESA trashes the place and we need to go to small claims, or if the ESA is loud and not suited for the condo and we need to evict?

LEASE ADDENDUM - ANIMAL POLICY
*ALL TENANTS MUST READ & SIGN THIS ADDENDUM*
The purpose of this addendum is to convey the terms and conditions regarding animals at XXXXXXXX and must be signed by all tenants when adding an animal. Animals are not permitted unless this addendum is completed, agreed upon, and signed by both Tenant and Landlord. 

Tenant agrees to read and comply with the Animal Rules listed below.

Tenant understands that any recurring complaint or notice received regarding the animal(s) is considered a violation of the Lease and may result in immediate removal of the animal(s) and/or lease termination and forfeiture of security deposit; whichever Landlord deems necessary. Tenant also understands that no animals are permitted to visit or temporarily be boarded in the Lease Property; doing so would also be considered a lease violation and subject to immediate removal of animal and/or lease termination.
 
I have read, understand, and agree to all the terms and conditions described in this Animal Policy agreement.
________________________________ __________________________________ _________________
Tenant Name (Please Print)          Tenant Signature          Date ________________________________ __________________________________ _________________
Tenant Name (Please Print)          Tenant Signature          Date

ANIMAL RULES INSTRUCTIONS:
The following rules, restrictions, and obligations apply to all Tenants. By affixing your signature to this agreement, Tenant acknowledges that you have read, understand, and agree to the following:
1. No loud or noisy animals including excessive barking, jumping, scratching, whining, or any other sound
2. No vicious or dangerous animals are permitted. Tenant must be able to maintain control over the animal at all times
3. Animal shall be restrained at all times when not in apartment. Unsupervised and/or unrestrained animals in any common area are strictly prohibited
4. Animal shall be properly maintained, licensed, and inoculated as required by local, county, or state statute, ordinance, or health code
5. Animal shall display owner identification and current inoculation tags at all times
6. Any odor resulting from any animal is considered a nuisance and is strictly prohibited
7. Tenant assumes all responsibility and is strictly liable for any and all amount of any injury to any person or property as a result of the animal or its’ actions and Tenant shall indemnify Landlord for all costs of litigation and attorney’s fees resulting from the same
8. All food and water bowls must be placed on a protective/plastic floor covering
9. All litter boxes must be placed on a protective/plastic floor covering and maintained in a proper and sanitary condition
10. Used litter will be double bagged and disposed of in the nearest outdoor trash receptacle and NOT disposed of down the toilet regardless of product’s claim of “flushability”
11. No animal is permitted to urinate or defecate on any unprotected floor
12. Tenant agrees to clean up after dog(s) immediately and properly dispose of all waste into nearest outdoor trash receptacle
13. Tenant may not abandon the animal or leave it for an extended period of time
14. No “visiting” or temporary boarding of animals
15. No animal will be permitted to disturb the health, safety, rights, comfort, quite or peaceful enjoyment of other tenants
16. Tenant understands that this list is subject to change as deemed necessary by the Landlord. Tenant will be notified of changes and asked to resign or initial

IN reading your addendum. I dont think it holds water at all.

From what I have read (which is very limited) ESA are not animals, they are considered medical equipment. So think of it that way.  What I was thinking if a ESA trashes a house, it would be the same as say an oxygen tank catching fire and causing damage.  If you are super concerned obviously talk to a lawyer, but I dont think this would be very enforceable.

Obviously you can go after someone for damage to your property, but in terms of enforcing anything on an ESA or owner of said ESA I dont think you would have much luck.

I hope I am wrong, good luck out there.

Psychstache

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Re: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2018, 08:25:16 AM »
Can you make a requirement of no pets and that individuals claiming to have an ESA or SA must provide the appropriate documentation before the lease is completed? Would you have have an argument to evict given that without an ESA letter of SA letter, they are officially a pet?

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hoodedfalcon

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Re: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2018, 08:59:10 AM »
Beware the slippery slope. You may want to read up on Fair Housing laws as well as the ADA. This is a good place to start:
https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/SERVANIMALS_NTCFHEO2013-01.PDF

lizzzi

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Re: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2018, 11:14:40 AM »
Be careful of their documentation if they are giving you the paperwork that says they have an ESA. There are Internet companies that will sell you that documentation, just to show to prospective landlords so they will rent to you. Total scam. The  rental manager of the large complex where I live was telling me that this happened to them....just once...until with the help of the police they figured out what was going on.

Fishindude

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Re: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2018, 12:44:00 PM »
I don't own any rental housing, but if I did I would not want animals of any sort allowed in my buildings.
It stinks that a landlord has to deal with this.   Should be able to tell the potential tenant, no thanks you'll have to find someplace else that allows animals.

tralfamadorian

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Re: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2018, 01:51:46 PM »
Be careful of their documentation if they are giving you the paperwork that says they have an ESA. There are Internet companies that will sell you that documentation, just to show to prospective landlords so they will rent to you. Total scam. The  rental manager of the large complex where I live was telling me that this happened to them....just once...until with the help of the police they figured out what was going on.

I cannot find the exact example/language now but I've read about one landlord getting around this but contacting the online company every time there was an applicant with an ESA and letting them know that they would be legally responsible if the ESA did any harm to people/property and the paperwork given by the online company was found to be not valid/proper due diligence had not been done/etc. Every single time, without one exception, the online company rescinded the ESA documentation.

The other option, if the ESA is one of the aggressive dog breeds, is that if the breed is disallowed by your property insurance company, you can deny their application because your insurance company would drop you for having that animal in your rental. Forcing you to switch insurance companies is seen as being an undue burden for the property owner and a valid reason to deny the application.

OP, please do you best to find another reason to reject this applicant if they do end up applying. ESAs are almost always trouble. The owners are either trying to get around pet fees/rent or they have a pet that makes them unrentable (aka pitbull).
« Last Edit: May 31, 2018, 03:27:30 PM by tralfamadorian »

MacGyverIt

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Re: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2018, 02:55:06 PM »
This issue riles me up b/c I've used Medical Alert Dogs, which is ADA-wise and legally not equivalent to Emotional Support Dogs. People abusing this system have made it tough for those of us with actual disabilities.

Here's a good write up:
https://www.rover.com/blog/difference-emotional-support-animal-and-service-dog/

Enough

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Re: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2018, 03:04:59 PM »
I allow pets with some restritions and fees. So I've had applicants say, "oh, I only have one pet. and 3 emotional support animals" or just claiming a pet as an ESA that would otherwise be allowed to avoid the $200 fee. 

I just ask for the nexus and a letter signed by their healthcare professional (this form works great: https://3d4igz27oxtl2iwox73y9smh-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Alternative-Response-Form.pdf).  After that, I have never heard back from any of the applicants.

bacchi

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Re: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2018, 05:23:07 PM »
I assume that the Mrs Murphy discrimination exception doesn't apply?

Otherwise, verify the ESA paperwork thoroughly. And ask for a large (generic) security deposit.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2018, 07:06:37 PM »
I would take your addendum and throw it in the trash to avoid litigation. You have no leverage. I am going through the same thing right now.

I am currently leasing my house to a college kid who has a 50-60 pound Husky that is 8 months old. I typically do not rent to pets that are over 50 pounds or less than one year old. However, he had the ESA letter from a mental health care professional. We will see how it goes. The Husky should be 70-80 pounds by the end of the lease. Good times.


GreenEggs

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Re: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2018, 07:29:02 PM »
I'd install ultrasonic pest devices that are tuned to bother dogs & cats.  Put them on a timer that turns them on at 2 A.M. until 4 A.M.  every night.  The animal will be up every night and drive the owner crazy. 

(My dog's been doing this lately because it's been raining every day and she needs exercise.  She's sleeping in the laundry room tonight!)




Roland of Gilead

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Re: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2018, 08:39:43 PM »
Beware the slippery slope. You may want to read up on Fair Housing laws as well as the ADA. This is a good place to start:
https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/SERVANIMALS_NTCFHEO2013-01.PDF

Reading that reminds me of:

1)  Never become a landlord

2)  Our society has gone overboard

"Breed, size, and weight limitations may not be applied to an
assistance animal"

" 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."

inline five

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Re: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2018, 09:59:30 PM »
Since you can refuse if insurance costs are increased, to me sounds like an opportunity for an insurance carrier to have outrageous pet policies for dogs, cats, and other animals. I bet those policies would sell like hot cakes!

iris lily

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Re: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2018, 10:17:01 PM »
I would take your addendum and throw it in the trash to avoid litigation. You have no leverage. I am going through the same thing right now.

I am currently leasing my house to a college kid who has a 50-60 pound Husky that is 8 months old. I typically do not rent to pets that are over 50 pounds or less than one year old. However, he had the ESA letter from a mental health care professional. We will see how it goes. The Husky should be 70-80 pounds by the end of the lease. Good times.
Huskies are busy dogs. Busy, busy, busy. That means destructive.
Lucky you.

Cwadda

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Re: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« Reply #16 on: June 04, 2018, 10:41:03 AM »
Beware the slippery slope. You may want to read up on Fair Housing laws as well as the ADA. This is a good place to start:
https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/SERVANIMALS_NTCFHEO2013-01.PDF

I started reading this, and it does make sense. There cannot be discrimination based on disability, and the landlord must provide reasonable accommodation. I.e. If the person cannot go up stairs, they are required to put in a ramp. Not an elevator. It seems like allowing a pet is a reasonable accommodation.

My questions:
1. What disabilities (diagnosed by a medical professional) constitute an animal for emotional support?
2. What kind of medical professional has the ability to do so? I.e. A doctor vs. a psychologist? Or; a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD., PhD) vs. a licensed psychologist?


More thoughts for OP: Is there another way you could deny the tenant? Income requirements, past evictions, drugs/crime, credit score?

Also, does your HOA allow pets or have limitations on pets?

kenmoremmm

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Re: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« Reply #17 on: June 04, 2018, 01:15:04 PM »
Beware the slippery slope. You may want to read up on Fair Housing laws as well as the ADA. This is a good place to start:
https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/SERVANIMALS_NTCFHEO2013-01.PDF
More thoughts for OP: Is there another way you could deny the tenant? Income requirements, past evictions, drugs/crime, credit score?

Also, does your HOA allow pets or have limitations on pets?

as far as i know, pet limitations within the HOA doesn't matter for ESAs. ESAs are not pets, they're tools.

yeah...

city of seattle has some hugely favorable policies for renters. so, you're already fighting an uphill battle. they had passed a "first come, first served" law that meant that the very first person to apply for your rental would have to be given the unit provided they met your qualifications. and, the city sets certain quals that cannot be questioned. oh, and if you have a criminal history... well, no worries, that can't be part of the screening process.

Cwadda

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Re: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2018, 02:45:41 PM »
Beware the slippery slope. You may want to read up on Fair Housing laws as well as the ADA. This is a good place to start:
https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/SERVANIMALS_NTCFHEO2013-01.PDF
More thoughts for OP: Is there another way you could deny the tenant? Income requirements, past evictions, drugs/crime, credit score?

Also, does your HOA allow pets or have limitations on pets?

as far as i know, pet limitations within the HOA doesn't matter for ESAs. ESAs are not pets, they're tools.

yeah...

city of seattle has some hugely favorable policies for renters. so, you're already fighting an uphill battle. they had passed a "first come, first served" law that meant that the very first person to apply for your rental would have to be given the unit provided they met your qualifications. and, the city sets certain quals that cannot be questioned. oh, and if you have a criminal history... well, no worries, that can't be part of the screening process.

Geez, and I thought my state favored significantly more to the tenant.

cloudsail

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Re: Emotional Support Animals in Rental Property
« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2018, 02:57:43 PM »
Ugh, I am so pissed off by how many people abuse the designation of ESAs. My son is autistic, and while he doesn't have an ESA, I know many other children on the spectrum or with other health issues who benefit greatly from them. They can prevent children from running off and getting lost. They can alert people to signs of seizure. THIS is what these highly trained animals are for. When stupid, ignorant people abuse this designation, it ruins it for people who really need them.