Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets: A Landlord's Guide

Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets: A Landlord's Guide

Becoming a landlord in Utah involves several important decisions, like how much rent to charge and whether to hire a property manager. You can even decide whether to welcome pets into your unit.

Yet, when it comes to tenants who have support animals, you could be breaking the law if you decline their applications.

These creatures enjoy special privileges under Utah and U.S. law, but how do you know the difference between them and pets? Read on to discover more about these animal classifications.

About Allowing Pets in Your Rental Property

More than 60% of American families own a pet, so you're limiting your pool of potential tenants by having a no-pet policy for your rental property. You can also charge higher rental rates when you allow pets, and pet-owning families are more likely to renew their leases.

There are also a few drawbacks associated with renting your house to families with pets. These include:

  • Barking dogs causing a disturbance
  • Dogs and cats soiling the flooring
  • Wandering pets bothering the neighbors
  • Pets creating lingering, unpleasant odors in your house

You can decrease these risks by interviewing the family with the pet present as part of your tenant screening process. This will give you an idea of how well-behaved the animal is.

Landlords may also charge a pet deposit to help cover the costs of damage caused by pets. Hiring a property manager to carry out regular inspections can also alert you to problems early on, so you can take steps to correct them.

What Is a Service Animal?

Service animals are always highly trained dogs or miniature horses that perform important functions for people with disabilities. These tasks may include:

  • Helping blind people navigate their surroundings
  • Alerting deaf people to sounds, like a doorbell
  • Assisting people in wheelchairs with tasks like door-opening
  • Getting help in the event of a medical incident

Regardless of your pet policy, you cannot discriminate against people who have service animals. You must allow them to occupy your rental property, and you can't charge them a pet deposit.

Support Animals Defined

Support animals don't perform specific tasks, although they're often highly trained animals. They usually play a comforting or companionship role for people suffering from mental difficulties like anxiety or depression.

You must make reasonable accommodations for the owners of these animals by waiving your no-pet policy and pet deposit.

Make the Best Decisions for Your Investment Properties

Some landlords prefer a no-pet policy for their rental units to avoid the risks associated with housing animals. Yet, when it comes to service and support animals, landlords have no say in the matter.

Hiring an experienced property manager helps you reduce the risks associated with allowing animals into your rental units.

PMI St. George is backed by over 20 years of experience in property management. Our experienced team is well-versed in local laws and can guide you through all the big decisions associated with owning a rental property.

Browse our blog for the best landlord advice, or sign up with us to experience an easier way to manage your St. George, UT, investment properties.