Is Your "No Pet" Policy Legal?
A couple of months ago, we discussed the decision of homeowners to enforce a “no pets” policy in our post, “Is Your Pet Policy Putting You in the Dog House?” While, as a property owner, you have the right to make a decision on whether to allow pets in your home; you may want to take a moment to review a situation in which you may not be able to enforce this policy.
The Fair Housing Act of 1989,
“prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), and handicap (disability).”
The law clearly states that one cannot discriminate in the sale, rental or financing of housing; therefore, it begs the question as to how your “no pet policy” would come into play with a potential tenant that utilizes a service animal.
In order for individuals to be protected under the Act with regards to service animals, three requirements must be met:
1. The person must have a disability.
2. The animal must serve a function directly related to the person's disability.
3. The request to have the service animal must be reasonable.
If all of these requirements are met, then the landlord may not refuse access to the dwelling on the basis of enforcing a “no pet policy”. Additionally, the Fair Housing Act does not define service animals as “pets”, therefore they cannot be subjected to “pet rules” set forth by housing providers. This would include restrictions on the size or weight of animals, as well as any required pet deposits or fees.
This information is not intended to serve as legal advice, but rather a way to encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Fair Housing Act and the local and state laws in your area.
For related information, please click below to read our tips on finding a rental with your pet.