Archive for the ‘Housing’ Category

Under the Fair Housing Act, housing providers such as landlords, HOAs, co-ops, and condos must reasonably accommodate service dogs. Housing providers can only deny a tenant’s request to live with their service dog in limited circumstances. In this article, we’ll explore what these exceptions are and what rights you have as a service dog owner in residential housing. 

Laws that Protect Assistance Animals in No Pet Housing  

There are two types of assistance animals with special housing rights: service dogs and emotional support animals. If you have a mental or physical disability that requires you to have either a service dog or an emotional support animal, you are protected from discrimination under the federal Fair Housing Act. Service dog owners have the following rights: 

Access to “no pets” policy housing Exemption from monthly pet fees Exemption from pet deposits Exemption from breed or weight restrictions

Housing providers must accommodate assistance animals unless they have a valid exemption, even if their building has a policy that bans all pets. Under federal Fair Housing rules, service dogs and emotional support animals are not considered pets and are thus not subject to rules that apply to normal pets. 

A major difference between an emotional support animal and a service dog is that service dogs must be individually trained to perform a task or job relating to the handler’s disability. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, do not undergo any specialized training and assist with mental health disabilities just by being present in their owner’s life. 

You may save and share this image. When can a landlord reject a service dog?

The right to live with your service dog is not absolute. Landlords can reject a tenant’s request to live with their service dog if they have a valid exemption. For example, if the landlord has determined that the tenant’s service dog poses a health or safety risk to others, they may properly deny accommodation if the risks can’t be mitigated. 

Some smaller landlords are also exempt from Fair Housing requirements. The Fair Housing Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units and single-family houses sold or rented by the owner without an agent. 

Landlords cannot reject a service dog solely because they merely perceive it as dangerous or a health risk to others without evidence. Landlords cannot deny a service dog, for example, solely because it is a certain breed. 

Fair Housing rules also override any building policies that ban pets. A housing provider cannot deny a service dog accommodation because their building has a strict ban on all animals. A housing provider also can’t deny a service dog for being too big just because their building has a size/weight restriction on pets. 

How can a landlord verify a service dog?

Under HUD guidelines, housing providers are permitted to verify a service dog by asking two questions: 

“Is the animal required because of a disability?” and  “What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?”

Housing providers are never permitted to ask about the nature or extent of a tenant’s disability or demand documentation as proof of service dog status. However, under HUD guidelines, housing providers are allowed to make the truth and accuracy of information provided during the service dog request part of the representations made by the tenant. This applies under a lease or housing agreement to the extent that the lease or agreement requires the truth and accuracy of other material information. 

What that essentially means is that if you lie about the status of your service dog, your landlord may have the right to take actions against you under the terms of your lease. It’s also common sense that faking the need for a service dog is unethical, but it is also outlawed in many jurisdictions. 

Overview on Service Dog Access Rights 

Service dog owners have rights when it comes to housing and public access rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. When you have a legitimate service dog, you have the right to access areas where the general public is allowed. This can include retail locations, restaurants, hotels, and beaches. Service dogs can also accompany their handlers in the cabin of airplanes free of charge. 

Certifications and Vests for Service Dogs

Certificates, ID cards, and vests are not mandatory for service dogs, but many service dog owners choose to use them. You can obtain these items after your service dog has been fully trained to perform the task or job related to your disability. 

Registering a service dog and obtaining items like certificates, ID cards, and vests help signal to other tenants in your building and members of the public that your dog is a working animal. It can help dispel any confusion about why your service dog is present, especially if your building has a ban on pets. 

You can register your service dog here: Service Dog Certification.

You can also purchase a service dog vest at this link: Service Dog Vest.

Having a certificate, vest, or ID card for your service dog is an easy way to let others know that your canine companion is a working animal and, therefore, should be treated as such. 

What you need to know about having a Service Dog Certificate 

Do you feel that having a service dog can help you with an emotional, mental or physical disability? Service dogs play an important role for people in need. However, you may have heard that service dogs can run upwards of $30,000! This is more than most people can afford. The good news is you can get a service dog without being rich.

In this informational post, we are going to cover some helpful tips on service dog and service dog laws. This includes tips on adopting your dog from a shelter or local rescue, what the dog needs to have to be considered a service dog, and how to get your canine a service dog certificate.

Where Can I Get a Service Dog?

 As we mentioned earlier, service dogs that have been bred, born and raised/trained to be in this field can be unaffordable and unreasonable for most people. But on the upside, they will come fully able to do the specific tasks you require from the service dog.

But what if you can’t afford these exorbitant fees?

You do have other options such as adopting a dog from your local shelter or rescue.

Why adopt a dog from a rescue or shelter?

Saving their life can save your life. Adopting a dog from your local shelter and rescue will provide you the feeling of knowing you are rescuing a life. The dog will know it too and provide you with unconditional love and affection. Adopting a dog from your local rescue or shelter are not only much less costly, but most have already been tested for illnesses, up-to-date on their vaccinations and (if old enough) have been spayed or neutered. Non-pure breed dogs are less prone to disease and genetic issues. Once you have trained your service dog, you will have a close connection that you will want to have for years and years.

What Should I Look for in a Potential Service Dog?

Since the point of having a service dog is to help an individual with daily life, this dog will have to be highly trained to be out in public places. With this in mind, the characteristics to look for in a potential service dog are;

Calm temperament Willingness to be handled and eager to please Acceptance of strangers but alert of surroundings Willingness to be groomed Non-reactive to the business around them Motivated by treats or praise

Can I Train My Own Service Dog?

Yes! Once you have found a potential service dog, you have the options of either training it yourself or enlisting the help of a professional trainer. Training your service dog yourself is not as intimidating as it may seem at first! In addition, if you train your service dog yourself you have a deeper and more meaningful connection.

The first training your puppy or dog will require is the basic obedience. This includes sit, stay, down, and wait. Once your canine has these skills in place, then the training becomes more specific to your own needs.

How Long Does It Take to Train a Service Dog?

Each dog is different. Some dogs require 6 months of training while others can pick up new skills and tasks within a few weeks. The ADA Service Dog guidelines do not include mandatory training time. As long as your dog is well behaved in public and is trained to assist you with your disability, they can be considered your service dog(s). Once your service dog is able to help assist with your disability, you are able to take them into public places. Public places include restaurants, hotels, airlines, parks, beaches, and even your office.

ADA Service Dog Registry Requirements

Unfortunately, there are some people who may attempt pass off their untrained pet as a service dog. For this reason, airlines, restaurants, apartment managers/owners and other business have the right to enquire about what tasks your service dog provides for you and many will ask to see your service dog certificate.

Although, you may not necessarily need a service dog certificate as the ADA does not require this, having one helps you legitimize your need for one. This is also extremely beneficial if your disability is not clearly identifiable by the general public (ie you’re not in a wheelchair etc.). In addition, this will also help staff or government employees from discriminating against you accidentally. Unfortuantely, Service Dog rights are not part of standardize training.

Once your dog is fully trained, your next step will be to register your service dog and obtain a service dog certificate.

If you are not ready to train your dog to become a service dog, you may be interested in certifying your dog to become an Emotional Support Animal. Emotional Support Animals are Federally protected and can live with you in ‘no-pet’ housing and fly with you inside the airplane cabin. Emotional Support Animals do not have to be specially trained, unlike service dogs.  For more information on Emotional Support Animals, here is a helpful article.

A Service Dog Certificate Makes Life a Bit Easier

Once your dog is fully trained to be in service, it’s well worth your time, money and effort to get a service dog certificate. Not every business or person may be as willing to accept your canine as a service dog, so having a physical custom service dog identification card or a digital copy on your phone, will save you time, stress, and frustration.

Having a service dog certificate just makes life a bit easier…