Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets

Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets

As a landlord, deciding whether to allow pets in your rental property is an important decision that can impact your ROI considerably. Yet, when it comes to support animals and service animals, you don't have the luxury of choice.

Support animals and service animals fall under the umbrella term, assistance animals. They both have certain legal protections when it comes to occupying residential housing.

Read on to discover the difference between these creatures and how they could affect you as a landlord.

What Is a Service Animal?

A service animal is a dog or miniature horse that's trained to perform specific tasks for its master. These duties include things like:

  • Helping deaf people recognize sounds, like a doorbell
  • Guiding blind people past obstacles
  • Fetching things for people in wheelchairs

Service animals can accompany their masters everywhere they go, and landlords cannot charge them a pet deposit or deny them access to a rental unit.

What Are Support Animals?

Support animals may also have advanced training, but they don't do specific tasks. Their role is to offer comfort or company to people with psychological or mental challenges.

They're particularly effective at alleviating anxiety and depression. If a prospective tenant produces a letter from a medical professional stating their need for a support animal, you cannot deny them access to your rental unit.

You must also waive the pet deposit for these animals.

Where Do Pets Fit In?

The most important difference between pets and assistance animals is that you have a say about allowing pets in your rental unit.

Most American families own pets, so there are advantages to allowing animals, but there are also some drawbacks to having pets in a rental property.

Due to the scarcity of pet-friendly properties, pet owners are prepared to pay higher rents. They're also more likely to take good care of your property and renew their leases.

Some risks associated with allowing pets in a rental property include damage from pets chewing things, soiling your flooring, and digging up your expensive landscaping. Dogs may also bark incessantly and disturb the neighbors, or bite someone and cause an unpleasant and costly lawsuit.

One way to reduce the risks of allowing tenants with pets is by asking for landlord references and interviewing potential tenants with their pets present. This can help you gauge how well-behaved and well-trained the animal is.

You may also charge a pet deposit as security against potential damages.

Managing Animals in a Rental Unit

Although you have little choice about allowing service and support animals in your rental accommodation, you can dictate your pet policy. If you go this route, a property manager can help you navigate the risks while enjoying the benefits.

PMI Capital City RTP can assist you with a full range of property services in Raleigh, NC, including tenant screening and property inspections.

We are backed by over 20 years of real estate experience and offer a comprehensive range of property services to help you maximize your Raleigh investment properties. Explore an easier way to manage your Raleigh properties today.