Differences Between Service, Emotional Support Animals, and Pets in Nashville TN

Differences Between Service, Emotional Support Animals, and Pets in Nashville TN

Nashville is a pet owner's paradise, ranking number seven in the nation for pet friendliness. It's no wonder we're seeing an increasing number of renters with pets in the Music City.

What does the growing number of pets mean for local rental property owners? It means that you may want to take a closer look at your pet policy, but it also means you'll need to understand a few important distinctions.

Today, we're going to talk about the difference between pets, service animals, and emotional support animals. Read on to make sure your policies comply with federal laws.

What Are Service and Emotional Support Animals?

First thing's first: service and emotional support animals are not the same as pets. Renters may own pets for enjoyment and companionship, making pet ownership a voluntary lifestyle choice. Service and support animals, on the other hand, have a job to do.

People have assistance animals to help with disability symptom management. In other words, these animals are prescribed by a doctor. They also fall under the category of HUD accommodations, meaning that landlords cannot discriminate against renters with assistance animals.

Can You Charge a Pet Fee for Assistance Animals?

If you have a pet-friendly property, you probably already have a few pet policies in place to protect your investment. A common requirement is that renters with pets pay a pet fee in addition to their security deposit.

Support animal regulations prohibit landlords from charging pet fees for service or emotional support animals, even if that is their standard practice. However, that doesn't mean you're left with no protection if the animal causes damage. You can withhold all or part of a tenant's security deposit to cover the cost of damage caused by an assistance animal.

What If You Run a No-Pet Property?

By the time you're listing your property for rent, you may have decided against allowing pets. Does that mean you can turn down applicants with assistance animals or evict existing tenants who acquire a service animal?

Housing laws regarding support animals state that landlords can't discriminate against viable tenants with assistance animals. You may ask for proof of assistance animal status. You may not ask for proof of the tenant's disability.

If you deny a tenant with an assistance animal, you may face legal action. Be prepared to demonstrate that allowing the animal in your property would have caused undue strain or danger. Otherwise, expect to face penalties for breaking federal laws.

Stay Up to Date on Housing Laws and Support Animals

As a Nashville landlord, you're likely to encounter renters with pets. No matter your pet policy, make sure you stay up to date on housing laws regarding service and support animals.

If your rental property isn't your full-time job, keeping up with things like housing laws and tenant satisfaction can become overwhelming. That's where Evernest comes in.

Evernest began as our founder's solution to managing his own rental property. This approach has led us to treat every property we manage like it's one of our own. Contact us for property management services with a personal touch.