If you’ve been a Denver area real estate investors for any time, you’ve most likely come into contact with service animals or emotional support animals among your tenants.
Service animals can be a confusing subject for many landlords. Let’s shed some light on this topic, and explain six aspects of service animals you need to know.
Six Facts About Service and Emotional Support Animals in Denver Rental Properties
Service animals are covered under the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a federal governance agency. Here are six facts about service animals Denver real estate investors need to know in order to provide the best possible environment to tenants that require this assistance.
1. Requests Can Be Made Any Time
Even if a tenant has lived at your property for a period of time with no animal, if they request a service animal – you must honor their request. This also covers requests to convert current pets to service animals.
You do not necessarily need to approve all service animal requests, but you must process the request.
2. Follow the Three Criteria Test
Once a tenant puts in a service animal request or emotional support animal, they must meet three key criteria in order to be granted permission to have a service animal at your property.
- There must be a disability: The disability may be physical, emotional, or mental, but there must be some type of disability.
- The request must offset the disability: Once it is determined that a tenant does have a disability, it must be determined that the request for a service animal will help offset that disability. For example, a visually-impaired tenant may request a seeing eye dog that can help guide them around your property.
- The request must be reasonable: What is a reasonable request? This is where it can be a little tricky. At the end of the day, a judge will determine what a reasonable request looks like.
3. Denver Pet Policies Do Not Apply
Even if your property is a “no pet” property, service animals or emotional support animals do not apply to this restriction.
These animals are legally not pets – they are service animals, so pet policies do not apply.
4. The Pet Bread is Not Relevant
Under HUD, the bread of the pet may not be taken into consideration for the approval or denial of the pet. From small gerbils to large dogs, all animals may be considered for a service or emotional support animal.
5. Additional Fees or Deposits Do Not Apply
Once an animal is approved to be a service animal or emotional support animal, Denver property managers are not allowed to charge additional fees or require a deposit on these animals.
Again, since these animals are not legally pets, you are not allowed to require additional payments.
Speaking of pet deposits, we suggest that Denver landlords never charge for pet deposits. Why? Find out in this post.
6. Misinterpretation is a Class 2 Petty Offense
If tenants do misrepresent their request for a service animal, it can be classified as a class two petty offense in the state of Colorado, and can result in a fine by the state of Colorado.
In order to best avoid these misrepresentation situations, Denver landlords must do their due diligence and research by conducting the proper three criteria test mentioned above.
Get Your Service Animal Questions Answered with Grace Property Management
As a Denver property manager, you don’t need to be scared of service animals on your properties; however, you must make sure you are complying with HUD rules and regulations about this topic.
If you deny a legitimate service animal, the fines from HUD are substantial, which is why it’s important to be informed. Have questions about this topic or other Colorado property management topics? Contact Grace Property Management or visit our website to learn more!