You get a new tenant. They never mention they are a pet owner, and you made it clear you do not accept pets. Yet, within a week, you hear meowing from their apartment.
When you knock on their door and ask if they have a cat, they say that the cat is their emotional support animal and they cannot possibly live without him. Do you have to let them keep the cat?
Is it really an emotional support animal?
If you are unsure whether they are telling the truth, you can ask them to show you proof from their medical provider that they have a disability and that the cat gives them much-needed emotional support.
A bit of sensitivity can go a long way here. For instance, your tenant may appear to have two working legs. You might not see that one is a prosthetic limb below the knee because they suffered an amputation after their leg was crushed in an accident at work.
You might not understand how a cat can help them with mobility. It can’t, but if the doctor confirms it helps them cope with the emotional trauma that resulted from that horrific event, you need to let them keep it.
Have they already had it for a while? Or does someone else have a cat?
The other reasons you may need to allow your tenant to keep their pet are:
- If they have already had it in your place for three months, and you knew or should have known about it but said nothing.
- If you allow another tenant to have one. The type of pet might come into play here. Allowing one person to have a gerbil does not mean you must allow another to have a python, but you would probably need to allow them a gerbil.
If you are unsure of your rights and obligations as a landlord, seek legal help to find out more.