This is Tanya with Envy Property Management, in today’s video we will be talking about how to qualify an assistance animal in your rental property. This video is part 2 of our educational video series about assistance animals in property management.
First I would like to briefly review last week’s video on the laws regarding assistance animals in Utah rentals. The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in housing and applies to almost all rental housing. Under the Fair Housing Act and Section 504, it defines an assistance animal as “An animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.”
So, with this information, what do you do when a prospective tenant discloses they have assistance animal they would like to live with them in your rental property? It’s not a secret that assistance animal falsification can be a problem for landlords. So we’ve come up with a 3 step process to ensure you are protecting the tenant as well as yourself as the landlord.
#1 – Require the Tenant to Submit a Request for an Assistance Animal
First of all, you want to make sure that you are legally meeting the needs of the tenant as well as protecting yourself as the owner. Have the tenant submit a “Request for an Assistance Animal” form. Check your local and state laws regarding what information you can ask for on your assistance animal request form. Make sure the request includes the resident’s primary care physician’s name and telephone number.
#2 – Require the Tenant to Fill Out an Animal Identification Form
Have the resident fill out an “Animal Identification Form,” including items such as: the type of animal, breed, age, weight, color, any special training or certifications, and if the animal has ever been reported to authorities.
#3 – Verify the Animal
After collecting the required information, you’ll then need to verify the animal is indeed a legally prescribed assistance animal. To do this, you’ll want to send the referring physician a form to be filled out and signed. Much like a prescription, this request is made because of the professional’s opinion that the assistance animal may be necessary to afford the disabled person an opportunity to use and enjoy the leased premises. This form should also state that assistance animals are not pets but animals that are determined by competent professionals to be an important and necessary part of treatment or assistance of a disability or handicap.
Once this form has been filled out and signed, you’ll want to personally contact the referring physician’s office involved in the resident’s care to verify the forms are correct and accurate and have not been falsified.
If all of this seems a bit overwhelming, you should consider using services such as “petscreening.com.” This is a free service to landlords and the service we use at Envy Property Management in order to verify all assistance animals in our rental properties.
This wraps up today’s video regarding how to qualify an assistance animal in your rental property, stay tuned for next weeks’ video when we talk about fees and restrictions on assistance animals in your rental property.
If you have any further questions regarding Assistance Animals, we would be happy to talk with you more about it. Give us a call at 801-337-4337, or you can also see our other videos on Assistance Animals on our website: www.envypm.com. Thanks for watching and we’ll see you next time.