Animals on the premises are often a divisive issue for landlords and tenants. Those renting real estate may feel very strongly that a pet contributes to their quality of life, while landlords have a vested interest in trying to keep their property in the best condition possible. From pet dander that could cause allergic reactions for future tenants to damage caused by scratching or unhousebroken pets, there are numerous risks landlords have to absorb when they allow pets in their units.
Many landlords have animal-free policies to minimize the potential of damage to their units and their premises liability related to unrestrained or untrained animals. Can those landlords refuse to allow service animals or emotional support animals?
Federal and state laws require service animal accommodations
Service animals can play a crucial role in helping those with disabling medical conditions live their best lives. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) specifically addresses service animals, as does the Virginia Fair Housing Law.
Landlords have the right to prohibit pets, but they must reasonably accommodate tenants and prospective tenants that require service animals. In fact, even in units where landlords permit pets but charge a fee for them, they should accommodate a service animal by not assessing those typical pet charges to the owner. Although the rules are slightly different, the same rights exist for tenants who require the assistance of an emotional support animal.
Disagreements about the necessity of the animal or the impact of the accommodations could lead to disputes between tenants and landlords. Learning more about Virginia real estate rules can help both those renting property to others and those living in a rented property better understand their rights.