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Do landlords have to allow service animals?

Landlords have a right to decide whether tenants can have animals on the property. Some landlords can outright ban pets from the premises while other landlords can create conditions, such as how the pet cannot be a nuisance and put other tenants in danger. 

However, landlords have to allow individuals with disabilities to have service animals on the premises with them even if other tenants cannot have pets. According to the Fair Housing Act, landlords cannot discriminate against people with disabilities, and not allowing someone to have an essential service animal is discrimination. It is vital for landlords to understand these rules, so they do not upset tenants and bring forth a lawsuit.

Service animals are not pets

In the eyes of the law, a service animal is not a pet. It is something the individual needs to function in society. Therefore, landlords cannot request an additional fee to have the animal in the apartment building, which is generally the case for many apartment pet policies. However, landlords can request documentation from a doctor that proves the animal is necessary for the person to function. Additionally, landlords can ask for documentation that proves the animal has received all essential vaccinations. Other people still live in the building, and the landlord has the right to make sure everyone else has a safe environment. 

Cases where a landlord can deny a service animal

Landlords need to be extremely careful when they consider denying a service animal. In the event a prospective tenant is unable to provide documentation from a doctor that a service animal is necessary, then a landlord can typically deny the request. Additionally, the documentation must present the need for a service animal. A person may provide documentation that proves the existence of a medical condition, but the doctor may not state the necessity of needing a service animal. Landlords cannot discriminate against service animals based on breed, weight or size. 

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