There has been some confusion about what t is a pet and what is really a service animal, or a companion animal. Since the passage of the American with Disabilities Act, which is several years old, the idea of refusing anyone the ability to rent your property because they have an animal is no longer so cut and dry. This law says that if a person with a disability needs a service or companion animal, you need to make all appropriate allowances for that. So, while you can have a no pets rule expect that the pet policy will need to accommodate companion animals.

There are some tools you can use to ensure the prospective tenant really does have a companion animal, and not a basic pet. You can ask for reasonable requirements, such as a letter from a doctor or a psychologist. You can also ask the prospective tenant for an explanation of the disability that the animal assists.

It’s not that we are anti-animals at Aborn Properties. In fact, one of our property managers is training a guide dog for the blind, and it’s in our office every day. However, we know that animals absolutely shorten the life of your property. They shorten the life of carpets and paint especially. I love dogs, but I know that they do damage. For those who have cats, they unfortunately urinate when they are unhappy or fearful or sick. So many times, cats can cause even more damage than dogs. We don’t really advise keeping pets in your property. There are certain properties that are good for pets and you can get more money out of them but in a general sense, we say no to pets. If it is a companion or a service animal, however, the rules are different.

About a month ago, we had a tenant call and ask for a pet. When we explained he was calling on a no-pet house, he tried to tell us it was a service animal. Naturally, we asked what it was and found out it was a 14-foot boa constrictor. He claimed he had to have this pet, or he just wouldn’t feel well. We didn’t deny him; instead, we asked for a letter from his doctor and a description of the ailment the snake was being prescribed for. Fortunately, he withdrew his request. Sometimes, asking for some reasonable documentation will protect you from having people simply claim their pet is a service animal.

If you have any questions about pets or the law as it pertains to companion and service animals, please contact us at Aborn Properties.