Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals And Pets In San Francisco Bay

Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals And Pets In San Francisco Bay

If you're a San Francisco landlord who owns a pet-friendly property, you might think that rules regarding service and support animals don't impact you. Well, they do.

Under the Fair Housing Act, landlords must make special provisions for these animals by waiving pet deposits and other applicable rules. This begs the question, "What's the difference between service animals, support animals, and pets?"

Keep reading to find out.

Allowing Pets in a Rental Property

A pro-pet policy has many benefits for landlords, including the ability to charge higher rent and a high likelihood of lease renewals. Over half of American families own pets, so you'll likely experience high demand for advertised rental vacancies.

Unfortunately, allowing pets on your property also comes with a greater risk of damage caused by unruly animals. Pets can damage flooring, chew wooden finishes, dig up your landscaping, or cause a flea infestation.

Careful tenant screening and pet deposits can help property owners mitigate these risks.

Service Animals Defined

The ADA Act's Titles II and III define service animals as dogs trained to assist people with certain disadvantages. These may include psychiatric, sensory, intellectual, or physical disabilities.

The animals receive specialized training so they can perform useful functions for these people. Relevant tasks may include:

  • Identifying sounds for deaf people
  • Helping blind people navigate
  • Responding to autism signals
  • Assisting wheelchair-bound people
  • Getting help when a person experiences a seizure

In most cases, dogs like labradors, German shepherds, and golden retrievers fulfill these roles, but any type of dog qualifies. Some states also recognize miniature ponies as service animals.

Apart from rules regarding service dogs, some emotional support animal laws apply to California landlords, too.

What Are Support Animals?

Support animals offer a level of support for people with mental difficulties. Their primary function is to offer comfort to people who suffer from anxiety, depression, phobias, or loneliness.

Although some of them receive training to an advanced level in this capacity, they don't do physical tasks for their owners like service animals do. This means they fall into a different category.

While the law caters specifically to dogs as emotional support animals, many other species may fulfill this role. The owner must complete emotional support animal registration if they want to enjoy the same benefits applicable to other assistance animals.

Landlords may ask to see a legitimate emotional support animal letter before allowing any concessions to a tenant with a support animal.

The Best Advice for Landlords

To sum up, when comparing emotional support vs. service animals, the main thing to consider is action. If the animal performs a specific action, it's a service animal; if it doesn't, it's either a support animal or a pet.

Emotional support animals should have a letter stating the person's need for their assistance.

With so many rules to keep in mind along with all your other property management tasks, it's easy for landlords to feel overwhelmed and overburdened. Hiring a property manager helps alleviate this stress.

Kenny Realty offers comprehensive property management services for San Francisco landlords. Speak to one of our property management experts today.

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