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Maxmillian

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Posts: 30
Reply with quote  #1 
Lately  many applicants  say they have" companion pets"  or "service animals ".They ignore  ads which  specify no pets  and expect to be able to move in with their animals . They also claim to not have to pay a  deposit . I resent this since  all they have is a prescription from some doctor .It's easy for the doctor  .He doesn't have to clean up the poop or replace the carpets .I view it as a way to bulldoze  past  the landlord  A real scam .. And lots of them are pulling it.
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dishrodger

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Posts: 314
Reply with quote  #2 
that is the way it is. you can not turn someone down if they have a letter by med doctor or mental health professional.
YES, a lot of people are trying to fake this, and if you can prove it, turn them in for fraud.
we all have to work inside the law
LLinVA

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Posts: 212
Reply with quote  #3 
The laws that I could found (ADA) specified that protected service animals are trained to do specific tasks in relation to a bona fide disability. That means a dog is trained to open doors for someone in a wheelchair, guide a blind person, or alert someone with diabetes or epilepsy that they are about to have an event. Protected service dogs are NOT animals that simply help someone with PTSD stay calm, or similar issues. These are NOT protected service dogs. 

Obviously, some states will have additional laws, but those are what are protected at a Federal level. We have a no pets policy that is strictly enforced. Therapy dogs are not protected.

I act clueless if someone goes out of their way to ask about their emotional support cat. I say, "I'm not sure, but I know we have to accept legally protected service animals." This way I'm not saying no, but I am not saying they are or are not an exception either.

dishrodger: What laws are you talking about when you say you have to accept them if they have a doctor's note?
dishrodger

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Posts: 314
Reply with quote  #4 
wisconsin
LLinVA

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Posts: 212
Reply with quote  #5 
Okay, MaxMillian isn't in Wisconsin. It would be best if you at least specified what you are talking about instead of stating something that could be misleading if people don't realize the whole picture. 
OHlandlord

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Posts: 3,733
Reply with quote  #6 
What is misleading is that these terms are used interchangeably, but they are not the same.  A service animal is a specifically trained dog that does some type of work or task for someone with a disability.  The most noted example is the seeing eye dog, although an animal being trained to bark or signal when a doorbell rings (for a deaf person), signaling the start of a seizure, fetching items (for a mobility impaired person), or even opening doors for someone unable to do it for themselves are all excellent examples.  They are TRAINED animals.  They go through an extensive training program to prepare them to do tasks for disable persons.  Since they are well trained, they are allowed in all public spaces.  These are covered under the ADA.

A companion animal has no special training, and may or may not do a task.  It may provide comfort and companionship and may lower stress.  Likewise a therapy animal or emotional support animal has no special training, but offers affection and comfort to people.  They are not allowed in public places.  They are untrained and may not behave as they should in public or in housing.  Basically, they are pets.  Still, these may be covered under Fair Housing Laws. 

Why is it so hard to distinguish between the two?  Because many physicians routinely write letters or "prescriptions" for these pets, saying they "may" provide aid for some condition.  Other sites will register service, companion, or therapy animals for a fee without documentation.  (After a 10 second search, I found http://registerservicedogs.com/, http://app.certapet.com/s3/start-here, http://www.usserviceanimals.org/register/?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=USSA%20-%20Search%20CPC&utm_term=dog%20certified%20service%20animal&utm_content=approved%20service%20dog)
When it is so easy for fake these doctor letters and forms , by taking a 3 minute computer quiz, and without ever having seen a doctor or being diagnosed with any disability, how can anyone tell?   

In fact, news agencies have tested this fake certificate scam and have been able to get certificates for all kinds of animals (pot belly pigs, snakes, miniature horses, etc.)  I've seen "doctor" letters from states that I know the "patient" has never even visited.  If the person has never even been to that state, how was a doctor able to diagnose a disability and the need for the animal without a single office visit?  I've seen people claim they need 3 support animals.  When the FHA rules say landlords must make accommodations, and people are scamming the rules at every turn, it is just a difficult situation.
AccidentalRental

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Posts: 51
Reply with quote  #7 
OHlandlord is spot on.  It is so confusing even the government agencies are not sure how to treat it.  The ADA covers Service Animals, not Assistance Animals.  The FHA is much broader and covers Assistance Animals too.  They issued a joint statement clarifying the rules here.  These rules trump any "No Pets" clause in our lease agreements and you cannot charge additional pet rent or pet deposit.

There is basically a two part test we have to perform to understand if a request for an assistance animal is reasonable:

(1) does the person have a disability and

(2) does the person need an assistance animal for the disability.

If both parts are met then you must allow an Assistance Animal.

According to the law, the request may also be denied if: (1) the specific assistance animal in question poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation, or (2) the specific assistance animal in question would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation.  

The good news is that local communities are beginning to crack down on this loophole.  I think it's only a matter of time before the requirements get much stricter to meet the above tests.  

Here's an article with more about dealing with pets - The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Foolproof Pet Addendum.  You can also download a free Landlord Guide for Dealing with Pets.  It includes a number of smart lease clauses every landlord should include.

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