Can You Charge Pet Fees for Support Animals in Seal Beach, CA?

Can You Charge Pet Fees for Support Animals in Seal Beach, CA?

Have you ever had a potential tenant apply for a unit only to find out they had a large pet with them? As a landlord, you may be hesitant to lease to someone with a larger animal in tow. However, it could also be your legal obligation to give them a chance.

Both service and support animals are a big consideration when leasing out your units. While you may not want to risk damage to your property, these animals may be medically necessary for the individual.

This is the information you need to know if you want to charge pet fees to someone bringing in service animals.

Fair Housing Laws and Assistance Animals

According to the Fair Housing Laws in California, landlords cannot discriminate or harass someone based on their disability. They must also make reasonable accommodations to allow a tenant or resident to have an equal opportunity to enjoy rented housing.

The same applies to assistance animals. These are animals that provide assistance and perform tasks for a qualified disabled person. However, some of these animals focus more on emotional support rather than physical assistance.

Regardless, they are assigned based on need and with a physician's permission. A landlord cannot charge a fee for an entity that is considered medically necessary, even if it's an animal.

Service Animals vs Support Animals

An important distinction to make is between service animals and support animals.

Service animals provide more of a functional role in their owner's lives. They can detect changes in their health, assist them physically, and even guide them.

Emotional support animals provide emotional support to alleviate symptoms such as stress or depression. They provide companionship and relieve loneliness.

Although the latter does not count as a service animal, they are recognized under the Fair Housing Act.

Asking for Proof of Disability and Need

You may suspect that an applicant is lying about their service animal's title. However, running a background check will not show disability status.

Instead, you can ask for certain types of documentation. An ESA letter written by a licensed medical professional can detail the person's mental or emotional disability. It provides legal protections for that emotional support animal.

As for service animals, you can ask for a letter from their doctor. Any dog can qualify as a service animal as long as the person requires them.

If you want to ensure lease renewals on your rental properties, try to keep an open mind regarding assistance animals.

Avoid Legal Challenges

Allowing support animals is your responsibility as a landlord. Even if you're not sure that an animal is properly trained, the Fair Housing Act protects both that animal and their owner. However, you can always hold the renter responsible for any damages caused by the pet.

If you need help managing your properties and tenants, look no further than PMI Patron. We offer property management in Cypress and its surrounding communities. Schedule a consultation today to learn more about our services and how we can help.