condo rental and emotional support animals issues

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heartwood
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condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by heartwood » Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:37 pm

I'm not sure if this belongs under Personal Consumer Issues or some other heading.

First I don't want to debate or even address the issue of emotional support animals. Next I do generally understand the difference between a service animal and an ESA.

My question relates to the rental of our condo when we're not using it ourselves. That and any issues during the rental are handled by our property manager.

Animals are prohibited in the association House Rules and are specifically prohibited in our city approved rental contract form. There have been several owners who have taken rentals where the renter has shown up with one or more animals w/o prior notice. Minimum rentals in the complex are 30 days. The animal owners assert that these are ESAs.

The Association has discussed this with outside counsel and gotten an opinion that ESAs cannot be prohibited if documentation is provided. Other condo associations have sued and lost on the ESA issue. Service animals apparently fall under ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) which we're told is quite specific. We're told that ESAs fall under FHA (Fair Housing Act) which is broader and less specific.

Again, I don't want to debate ESAs. I'm looking for some experiences from condo owners on how they've handled security deposit issues if there are odors or fleas in bedding, furniture, etc. Any physical damages seem straight forward, but the odors and fleas are unknowns to me.

When we rent out, the current renter leaves before Noon one day, the unit is serviced and available to the next renter the following day. It's a tight schedule since most turnovers are at month's end. I believe if a subsequent 30 day renter moves out over odors or fleas, I may have to compensate them since i can't provide promised acceptable accommodations. We've also been advised that we can't ask ahead of time about ESAs.

If I've got any of this wrong, please advise, but I'm primarily looking for experiences from other owners who have dealt with the issue.

euroswiss
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by euroswiss » Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:14 pm

What you describe is pretty much my understanding of the issue as well. As far as documentation I believe that you can ask for a note from a certified healthcare professional (and not just, say, some statement downloaded from the internet).
As far as fleas or odor, and I cringe saying this because I am a landlord too (albeit with longer-term rentals), it is pretty much going to be your cost of doing business. I know, the government makes the rules and you have to fund them (I think it is called "unfunded mandates"...) and that doesn't seem fair, but basically, you are stuck baking it into your rent.
For the fun of it, I'll give you an even crazier situation: most insurance companies refuse to insure rental properties where "dangerous dog breeds" are present. Now, imagine you have a tenant who has pitbull as a ESA. Are you going to defy the ADA or get your insurance to cancel your policy (which means your bank will call your loan)?

adamthesmythe
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by adamthesmythe » Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:26 pm

I am not sure- but- seems to me that animal cleaning fees, damage deposits, and/ or an extra vacant day would not be forbidden by ADA, etc. There is nothing discriminatory about requiring payment for damages or cleaning.

btenny
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by btenny » Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:05 pm

Charge more PER DAY for ADA or ESA animals plus ask for additional deposits and cleaning fees for their animals. Grade the extra costs based on the animal size. Ask for a ton more $$ for any animal over 30 pounds. Ask for huge extra $$$ for a 60-80 pound or larger animal. It is the cost of doing business. Basically price the big dogs out of the market. As far as I know this is OK. Then when a tenant shows up with a ESA animal immediately ask for more $$$ (show them the $$ vs size table) before you give them the keys or let them move in. Put this notice and $$$ vs size table in your advertising.

Good Luck.

PS. The powers that be did a similar thing for big loud boats on Lake Tahoe. They charge them more $$ vs length and more $$ for big horse power. So the big fast noisy boats stopped coming. It was just too expensive.

.

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Sandtrap
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by Sandtrap » Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:14 pm

"btenny" is on target.
In this "age of litigation and consumer sensitivity", businesses have to walk a fine line.
The other big big hassle for landlords that have arrived on the scene are "bed bugs".
Good luck.
j :D
Last edited by Sandtrap on Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

rooms222
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by rooms222 » Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:17 pm

I think it´s pretty clear you cannot charge more for having an ESA or charge a higher deposit. This article recommends charging a higher deposit for everyone. Charging a higher deposit just for someone with an ESA is likely to be viewed as housing discrimination. http://www.latimes.com/business/realest ... story.html

There is more specific guidance online from organizations such as the Humane Society, but I chose the link above because it is from a neutral source. We have dealt with ESA issues at our condo, and require a note from a medical professional.

euroswiss
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by euroswiss » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:00 am

Sandtrap wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:14 pm
"btenny" is on target.

The only thing you can do is charge more for the deposit and or fees regarding pets and service animals. You can make the size of that fee "any size you want". Again, "any size you want".
The ESA and related issues are much like the ADA when it first came on the rental market, but stickier. It can be a landlord's nightmare. And, one can rent to someone that does not have an animal and then sometime during their tenancy they can produce required documentation and bring the animal in and there's not much the landlord can do about it except require an increased deposit for animal fee that is "any reasonably size that the landlord wants".
Obviously one can't require a 1 million dollar fee for an animal. But it can be "any size otherwise".
You're on target on the issues at hand. Great research.

The other big big hassle for landlords that have arrived on the scene are "bed bugs".
Good luck.
j :D
I STRONGLY disagree! You can NOT charge higher deposits or fees to an ESA owner because it means you are discriminating against this tenant. You CAN however charge ACTUAL cost for cleaning/repairing if the animal caused damage.

alex_686
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by alex_686 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:03 am

adamthesmythe wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:26 pm
I am not sure- but- seems to me that animal cleaning fees, damage deposits, and/ or an extra vacant day would not be forbidden by ADA, etc. There is nothing discriminatory about requiring payment for damages or cleaning.
I am fairly up to-date on this, as I am on a board which is undergoing this issue right now. You can't charge extra for damage deposits, extra vacant day, etc. Nothing upfront. Only after, and if, damage has been done.

To the OP, update your association house rules to cover damage, defecation, noise, leases, etc. I know of one over 55 housing unit which required that emotional support animals be crated while on the association's common property, which I found to be extreme.

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Sandtrap
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by Sandtrap » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:06 am

euroswiss wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:00 am
Sandtrap wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:14 pm
"btenny" is on target.

The only thing you can do is charge more for the deposit and or fees regarding pets and service animals. You can make the size of that fee "any size you want". Again, "any size you want".
The ESA and related issues are much like the ADA when it first came on the rental market, but stickier. It can be a landlord's nightmare. And, one can rent to someone that does not have an animal and then sometime during their tenancy they can produce required documentation and bring the animal in and there's not much the landlord can do about it except require an increased deposit for animal fee that is "any reasonably size that the landlord wants".
Obviously one can't require a 1 million dollar fee for an animal. But it can be "any size otherwise".
You're on target on the issues at hand. Great research.

The other big big hassle for landlords that have arrived on the scene are "bed bugs".
Good luck.
j :D
I STRONGLY disagree! You can NOT charge higher deposits or fees to an ESA owner because it means you are discriminating against this tenant. You CAN however charge ACTUAL cost for cleaning/repairing if the animal caused damage.
You're right.
Thanks for pointing that out.
I can't remember how the legal firm drew up my leases. I think it was pet fee or some category like that. I'll have to check. But it's an up front fee, not just a retroactive post pet fee as you state, though both can be used.
I've had about 120 rental units over the years and haven't had a problem with it.
As always,
YMMV.

"bsteiner" might chime in as he's the chief legal consult on the forum.
As always, in these matters, OP is best to confer with legal counsel to conform to local specific laws and landlord tenant codes.
Thanks again for bringing things to my attention.
mahalo,
j :D
Last edited by Sandtrap on Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:13 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Sandtrap
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by Sandtrap » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:11 am

rooms222 wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:17 pm
I think it´s pretty clear you cannot charge more for having an ESA or charge a higher deposit. This article recommends charging a higher deposit for everyone. Charging a higher deposit just for someone with an ESA is likely to be viewed as housing discrimination. http://www.latimes.com/business/realest ... story.html

There is more specific guidance online from organizations such as the Humane Society, but I chose the link above because it is from a neutral source. We have dealt with ESA issues at our condo, and require a note from a medical professional.
Good article. Thanks for posting.
I'm glad I'm substantially out of the rental business.
Things are getting tougher on landlords as years go by.
In the "age of litigation" and consumer sensitivity, business owners have to walk a fine line.
mahalo,
j :D

ralph124cf
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by ralph124cf » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:01 pm

In my state, the ESA does not need any documentation, the person does. They need a statement from a licensed mental health professional that the animal is needed for the persons emotional/mental health or stability.

While it is true that some people will doctor shop to get somebody who will put their name (and license) behind this, it does cut down on the flakes that pull this stunt.

Ralph
Last edited by ralph124cf on Tue Feb 20, 2018 2:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

mouses
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by mouses » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:20 pm

A hotel where I go to ride out hurricanes permits pets, but charges $100 a day more for them. I would imagine that means it is legal to have an increased rent for a pet. I would also guess that you could require a larger cleaning deposit as long as it is for any pet not just esa animals.

The cleaning schedule is pretty tight. If you have to fog for fleas, I assume that is done first, pause for several hours, then the shampooing removes the toxic flea products as well as pet odors, so the cleaners will be working overnight. On the other hand, it is pretty obvious if there are fleas, so you can probably skip that part of the cleaning most of the time.

I think you are worrying quite a bit about a rare situation. I have a cat. The cat uses his litter box. He does not have fleas.

randomguy
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by randomguy » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:32 pm

mouses wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:20 pm
A hotel where I go to ride out hurricanes permits pets, but charges $100 a day more for them. I would imagine that means it is legal to have an increased rent for a pet. I would also guess that you could require a larger cleaning deposit as long as it is for any pet not just esa animals.
It is legal to have increased rent/security deposits for pets. ESA animals are not pets though and in general it is illegal to charge more of them. You can charge for damages caused.

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heartwood
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by heartwood » Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:22 pm

mouses wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:20 pm

...

I think you are worrying quite a bit about a rare situation. I have a cat. The cat uses his litter box. He does not have fleas.
OP here. Agreed that it may be a rare event. We haven't had it happen to us so far. It has happened to other unit owners in our complex and has been the subject of much community discussion, hence my OP.

Since I first posted I've had further discussions with our property manager, the one who rents the unit for us and handles the contracts, welcome access, cleaning, etc. He's advised that the state now allows charging up to an additional month's rent for service animals and ESAs. I haven't seen the details yet. I'm assuming its in the nature of a notice in addition to the boilerplate in the contracts re no animals, that if you show up with an animal there's an additional charge of one month's rent, each month. Sounds similar to the Lake Tahoe reference above.

We've told him to implement it.

CFM300
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by CFM300 » Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:54 pm

This thread made me wonder what Airbnb's policy is. Seems that with Airbnb...

1. Hosts MUST accept assistance animals, including ESAs.
2. Guests are NOT required to disclose the presence of assistance animals prior to booking.
3. Hosts are NOT allowed to charge additional fees for assistance animals.
4. Guests are NOT required to provide documentation.

All of those things go out the window, of course, if animals are prohibited by law, which may be the case in some areas of some countries other than the U.S.

Source: https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/186 ... nce-animal

euroswiss
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by euroswiss » Tue Feb 20, 2018 3:31 pm

randomguy wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:32 pm
mouses wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:20 pm
A hotel where I go to ride out hurricanes permits pets, but charges $100 a day more for them. I would imagine that means it is legal to have an increased rent for a pet. I would also guess that you could require a larger cleaning deposit as long as it is for any pet not just esa animals.
It is legal to have increased rent/security deposits for pets. ESA animals are not pets though and in general it is illegal to charge more of them. You can charge for damages caused.
This!

investordoc
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by investordoc » Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:03 pm

OP Wrote "Since I first posted I've had further discussions with our property manager, the one who rents the unit for us and handles the contracts, welcome access, cleaning, etc. He's advised that the state now allows charging up to an additional month's rent for service animals and ESAs. I haven't seen the details yet. I'm assuming its in the nature of a notice in addition to the boilerplate in the contracts re no animals, that if you show up with an animal there's an additional charge of one month's rent, each month. Sounds similar to the Lake Tahoe reference above.

We've told him to implement it."
[/quote]

OP
I don't know what state your rental property is in but I would do some research on what your manager is telling you. It is federal law under the Federal Housing Act that states you can not charge extra rent or extra deposit because someone has an ESA. You can charge for actual damage that an ESA causes. Now I know that some states are going around and giving the finger to the Federal Government on other topics but I doubt this is one of them. You and the property manager can be sued if someone with an ESA files a complaint with HUD or the US DOJ. Good luck. Have the property manager print a copy of the State regulation that allows what you want to do. Motor boats and ESA's are not in the same category.
Last edited by investordoc on Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by LadyGeek » Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:21 pm

I removed an off-topic comment and several replies related to Emotional Support Animals (ESA). As a reminder, see: General Etiquette
We expect this forum to be a place where people can feel comfortable asking questions and where debates and discussions are conducted in civil tones.

...At all times we must conduct ourselves in a respectful manner to other posters. Attacks on individuals, insults, name calling, trolling, baiting or other attempts to sow dissension are not acceptable.
This thread is now in the Personal Finance (Not Investing) forum (rental).
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Traveler
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by Traveler » Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:24 pm

Be prepared for people to say the animal is an ESA when it's simply a pet they didn't want to pay extra for. And be prepared for animals other than cats and dogs - apparently things like snakes, turkeys, chickens and hamsters provide emotional support. Also, I'm not sure that ESAs fall under the ADA. I know they are not considered by the ADA as a service animal.

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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by JGoneRiding » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:32 pm

I believe for an esa the law only requires "reasonable " accommodation. You can still charge a pet damage deposit and flea control fee. I saw a very extensive form from a local suppsidised housing authority and it most assuredly did NOT give eta dogs cart Blanche. It was about 6 pages long of requirements.

Basically they still had to get certified and signed off on a number of situations and sign for vaccines etc etc

For example you can still require that the animal be spayed/neutered and proof of vaccine

DVMResident
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by DVMResident » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:36 pm

Traveler wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:24 pm
Be prepared for people to say the animal is an ESA when it's simply a pet they didn't want to pay extra for. And be prepared for animals other than cats and dogs - apparently things like snakes, turkeys, chickens and hamsters provide emotional support. Also, I'm not sure that ESAs fall under the ADA. I know they are not considered by the ADA as a service animal.
Important info from the OP:
The Association has discussed this with outside counsel and gotten an opinion that ESAs cannot be prohibited if documentation is provided.

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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by JGoneRiding » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:37 pm

CFM300 wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:54 pm
This thread made me wonder what Airbnb's policy is. Seems that with Airbnb...

1. Hosts MUST accept assistance animals, including ESAs.
2. Guests are NOT required to disclose the presence of assistance animals prior to booking.
3. Hosts are NOT allowed to charge additional fees for assistance animals.
4. Guests are NOT required to provide documentation.

All of those things go out the window, of course, if animals are prohibited by law, which may be the case in some areas of some countries other than the U.S.

Source: https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/186 ... nce-animal
That doesn't say you can not ever exclude them. It says "reasonable" accommodations

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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by JGoneRiding » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:44 pm

Traveler wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:24 pm
Be prepared for people to say the animal is an ESA when it's simply a pet they didn't want to pay extra for. And be prepared for animals other than cats and dogs - apparently things like snakes, turkeys, chickens and hamsters provide emotional support. Also, I'm not sure that ESAs fall under the ADA. I know they are not considered by the ADA as a service animal.
This! It's happening all the time especially with people that are judgment proof in the first place absolutely everyone wants to call there dog cat snake peacock an emotional support animal with absolutely no training at all! They are pets! And I love pets I make my living off of them but they do NOT deserve to go every where under the sun just because! We need to rise up as reasonable law abiding people and get it changed so only real service animals get this protection it's been horrible abused . 2 of them got into a fight in the middle of a grocery store the other day.

CFM300
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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by CFM300 » Wed Feb 21, 2018 7:47 pm

JGoneRiding wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:37 pm
That doesn't say you can not ever exclude them. It says "reasonable" accommodations
From the site:
Question: "Are hosts required to accept assistance animals?"
Answer: "Generally, yes, unless there is a threat to health or safety (see below)."
So, unless there is a threat to health or safety, hosts are required to accept assistance animals.

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Re: condo rental and emotional support animals issues

Post by VegasBH » Thu Feb 22, 2018 3:50 am

The safest Thing to do is to evaluate the unit when is vacated and charge for any extra cleaning or damage that needs to be repaired. You can hold person accountable for any cleaning or damage that would be above normal.

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