ESA Policy
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ESA Policy (by rentON [PA]) Oct 10, 2018 4:40 AM
       ESA Policy (by NE [PA]) Oct 10, 2018 5:15 AM
       ESA Policy (by Plenty [MO]) Oct 10, 2018 5:33 AM
       ESA Policy (by Barb [MO]) Oct 10, 2018 5:34 AM
       ESA Policy (by S i d [MO]) Oct 10, 2018 5:40 AM
       ESA Policy (by Robert J [CA]) Oct 10, 2018 6:12 AM
       ESA Policy (by PT [IN]) Oct 10, 2018 6:18 AM
       ESA Policy (by Oregon Woodsmoke [ID]) Oct 10, 2018 7:35 AM
       ESA Policy (by Oregon Woodsmoke [ID]) Oct 10, 2018 7:40 AM
       ESA Policy (by David [NC]) Oct 10, 2018 9:25 AM
       ESA Policy (by Vee [OH]) Oct 10, 2018 11:51 AM
       ESA Policy (by John... [MI]) Oct 10, 2018 12:39 PM
       ESA Policy (by John... [MI]) Oct 10, 2018 12:44 PM
       ESA Policy (by Barb [MO]) Oct 10, 2018 2:41 PM
       ESA Policy (by David [NC]) Oct 10, 2018 4:11 PM
       ESA Policy (by John... [MI]) Oct 10, 2018 6:59 PM
       ESA Policy (by LisaFL [FL]) Oct 10, 2018 8:21 PM
       ESA Policy (by David [NC]) Oct 11, 2018 6:49 AM
       ESA Policy (by Barb [MO]) Oct 11, 2018 7:37 AM
       ESA Policy (by David [NC]) Oct 11, 2018 8:25 AM
       ESA Policy (by John... [MI]) Oct 11, 2018 11:36 AM
       ESA Policy (by Barb [MO]) Oct 11, 2018 1:44 PM
       ESA Policy (by John... [MI]) Oct 11, 2018 2:07 PM
       ESA Policy (by BRAD 20,000 [IN]) Oct 11, 2018 11:03 PM
       ESA Policy (by John... [MI]) Oct 12, 2018 6:29 AM
       ESA Policy (by Barb [MO]) Oct 12, 2018 10:28 AM

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ESA Policy (by rentON [PA]) Posted on: Oct 10, 2018 4:40 AM
Message:

Sorry to beat a dead horse (not an ESA horse) but what is your policy in regards to dealing with ESAs? As part of an ESA policy, would it be legal to require the Tenant to maintain renter's insurance with the landlord named as additional insured? I'm trying to develop a best practices policy in dealing with the ESA epidemic.

--67.165.xx.xx




ESA Policy (by NE [PA]) Posted on: Oct 10, 2018 5:15 AM
Message:

I have yet to have an ESA carrying prospect come through to be a tenant. It seems (at least for me) that requiring the necessary documentation that I will verify, is enough to send them to another landlord. --50.107.xxx.xxx




ESA Policy (by Plenty [MO]) Posted on: Oct 10, 2018 5:33 AM
Message:

They meet all your othere qualifications first. One of which is not committing fraud. All the others may remain standing. --99.203.xx.xxx




ESA Policy (by Barb [MO]) Posted on: Oct 10, 2018 5:34 AM
Message:

You should simply require the renters insurance from all tenants. You canít single out ESA owners --64.251.xxx.xxx




ESA Policy (by S i d [MO]) Posted on: Oct 10, 2018 5:40 AM
Message:

rentON,

My understanding is that you cannot require someone with an ESA to do anything differently than if the DIDN'T have the ESA. For example: you can't charge a pet deposit, pet rent, or a pet fee. I think requiring insurance for an ESA tenant vs. not requiring it for regular tenants COULD be interpreted as an unnecessary requirement. After all, what is the animal going to do? Maybe if it's an aggressive breed of dog you would have a reasonable arguement, but even then my guess is that would be more related to there being an unjust burden placed on your if your insurance company gave a written notice that they were going to cancel your policy unless the ESA tenant bought their own liability policy.

The waters are still murky, and there will have to be many court cases to decide what is/isn't required. The question is: do you want to be one of those cases?

ESA owners still have to clean up after the animal, ensure it doesn't damage the property, and ensure it doesn't cause disturbances with neighbors.

I've had TWO people show up with ESAs. One surprised me with the letter from her medical healthcare provider at the front door when I showed up for lease signing. Okay, so I changed my application to say, "Describe any ANIMALS that will be on the premises." I used to ask about PETS only. Gotta be specific, because she answered "No" to PETS, but an ESA is not a pet, so technically it was true. Now if someone lies about having no ANIMALS on the app and shows up with an ESA letter, I can simply deny based on false info on the application.

The second one stayed with me for 2 months, then decided to get an ESA. Prior to that, she had asked about getting a pet. So magically it changed from a pet to an ESA, probably due to something she read online.

Know what I did? I didn't worry. This is a small potatoes kind of deal. She's renting my humblest unit that is usually harder to rent. She's on bi-weekly payments, so I'm getting an 8.3% monthly premium. Next year if she stays she will be getting a rent raise. Originally, I was going to just do $15, but the way the market is now I think $30 sounds better.

They can only sneak an ESA in on you once. But yearly rent raises come every year. ;-) --173.20.xxx.xxx




ESA Policy (by Robert J [CA]) Posted on: Oct 10, 2018 6:12 AM
Message:

I just had an applicant read me the riot act. I require all tenants to carry renters insurance. Since the applicants dog is big and mean, I asked them to carry "dog bite/attack insurance". The applicant had the paperwork from my City/State that says it is illegal for a landlord to require people with ESA to carry renters insurance. While I explained that I'm not asking anything special since all tenants must carry renters insurance, but since I had to meet the dog first and it tried to bite my hand off, I say this is an aggressive dog and my Landlords Fire/Liability Insurance Policy excludes coverage for dangerous breads or aggressive animals. If your renters policy covers your dog, then I may try to get a waiver from my carrier. But since you haven't maintained any insurance, and my policy would be cancelled, I can not rent to you. Period, end of story.

I also got a letter from my insurance stating such a requirement about dangerous pets--aggressive minded dogs, venomous snakes, crazy attack cats, Tasmanian devil's and other known animals that aren't suited for domesticated life. --47.156.xx.xx




ESA Policy (by PT [IN]) Posted on: Oct 10, 2018 6:18 AM
Message:

I have a tenant right now who is trying to sneak an ESA dog into the unit. I found about it and spoke to her about it. She said she will send me all the documentation. She sends a phot of some bullcrap badge you can get from the internet for $30 and a filled out form for an ESA from her previous rental. I then have my attorney send her a letter requesting a document from a actual doctor on their letterhead stating she needs this ESA. Still waiting. --50.194.xxx.xxx




ESA Policy (by Oregon Woodsmoke [ID]) Posted on: Oct 10, 2018 7:35 AM
Message:

If you want insurance on an ESA, you must require insurance on all tenants. You can have a written policy ( in every tenant's lease ) that tenants are required to maintain tenant's insurance that includes liability coverage.

--174.216.xx.xx




ESA Policy (by Oregon Woodsmoke [ID]) Posted on: Oct 10, 2018 7:40 AM
Message:

Incidentily, if you meet the tenant's ESA and it tries to bite your hand off, or displays hostility, snarling, lunging, snapping, you can reject it,

You are only required to make a reasonable accomodation. It is not reasonable to accept a dog that behaves in an aggressive and dangerous manner and is a threat to the other tenants and the neighbors

Be sure to document. --174.216.xx.xx




ESA Policy (by David [NC]) Posted on: Oct 10, 2018 9:25 AM
Message:

Just create a policy and stick to it. If they are legit, they will follow it. If they aren't then it will be rented to someone else. By having a policy you are treating everyone fairly and equally and the below stuff is common sense stuff to cover you. As an aside, numbers 1 through 4 are what is required to have a pet in the unit. 5-6 are for an ESA, 7 is for service animal.

I believe I got most of this stuff from a service animal site that Deanna (TX) recommended. But I could be wrong. Can't remember.

To have an animal be considered in your rental application as an emotional support animal, you must include the following with your filled out application:

1. Photo of the animal.

2. Recent medical letterhead from a local vet which includes:

a) A statement that your animal is spayed or neutered

b) Up to date on vaccinations

c) Breed type and weight

3. Copy of dog license (if applicable)

4. Proof of renterís insurance with a dog provision (if applicable)

5. Submit a written request to have a service/companion animal, as an accommodation for the tenantís disability

6. Recent medical letterhead from your local treating physician that includes:

a) A statement that you have a mental health issue or are disabled

b) A written prescription stating the animal is necessary in your home

only for service animal

7. Proof of Training that the animal has been trained to perform tasks that reduce the disability of his owner:

a) SD certification from a recognized/accredited program

b) Training logs if owner-trained

c) Independent evaluation of your dog's training by a qualified trainer

d) Certificates attesting to training and temperament, such a training class completion certificates, an obedience title or certificate, a CGC certificate, etc

e) Video demonstrations of the dog's training

f) In person demonstrations of the dog's training

--71.217.xxx.xxx




ESA Policy (by Vee [OH]) Posted on: Oct 10, 2018 11:51 AM
Message:

I am hearing squirrels are not making it well as ESA or pets, they fly off the handle... --76.188.xxx.xx




ESA Policy (by John... [MI]) Posted on: Oct 10, 2018 12:39 PM
Message:

Robert J: Most of what you said is actually a legal issue. You're walking on thin ice. You cannot reject based on your insurance company not allowing a certain breed unless you have documentation from them for THAT SPECIFIC ANIMAL (which you do not have). Therefore, it would indeed be illegal for you to deny based on that.

Other pieces are different. You are right that you can require renter's insurance for everyone. (Well, if that is indeed allowed in your state -- I'm not sure on California.) It sounds like the applicant was just confused and thought you were requiring it only of them because of the animal (which would NOT be acceptable).

- John...

--24.180.xxx.xxx




ESA Policy (by John... [MI]) Posted on: Oct 10, 2018 12:44 PM
Message:

David: Your requirements are likely illegal. You may not require that a Service or Emotional Support Animal be spayed/neutered (unless this is required by local ordinance, which would be very rare).

You also can't require a "prescription" from a physician. Doctors, in general, do not "prescribe" such animals, so asking for a "prescription" makes no sense.

Heck, you can't even require that it be a "local treating physician." The law does not require that it be a "physician" or that they be "local."

You may not require "certification" of a Service Animal. Yes, most good ones do come from a "recognized/accredited program", but that is NOT required by law. I think we even have a landlord here on the forum who trained her own Service Animal.

You may not require an "independent evaluation" of the animal.

I'd be very careful about your advice to "Just create a policy and stick to it" if your policy is full of illegal requirements...

- John...

--24.180.xxx.xxx




ESA Policy (by Barb [MO]) Posted on: Oct 10, 2018 2:41 PM
Message:

I have a service dog. Mine is fully trained, and even attended the MrLL Boot Camp in July 2017. He is a 65 - 70 pound 3 year old lab mix. I did some owner training, but I also hired a SD trainer to do some training and teach me how to train him. I have a huge amount of time and money invested into him, but as my disabilities get worse, he is a great help.

My understanding under the law with regards to David's statements about SDs:

7. Proof of Training that the animal has been trained to perform tasks that reduce the disability of his owner:

a) SD certification from a recognized/accredited program -

There are plenty of recognized programs that are worthless. There are a few awesome ones. Do you know the difference?

b) Training logs if owner-trained -

This is often discussed by SD trainers, SD partners, etc. I have a rather in depth log. It is part of my defense if I'm ever denied entry. It would be a real pain to try to back-create. It is a pain to keep up to date. In fact, mine is not up to date. In consultation with a friend who is a lawyer, though, if we were to be denied entry, this would be part of the case when we went to civil court.

c) Independent evaluation of your dog's training by a qualified trainer -

By what qualified trainer? Do you know any? In the US, we don't have any that are specifically qualified. I know a few trainers who list some certifications from the AKC, but that is different from SD training. There is a program in British Columbia, but that is B.C. Additionally, any evaluation is only an evaluation of the dog's performance that day. The next day, the dog could fail completely. You never know.

d) Certificates attesting to training and temperament, such a training class completion certificates, an obedience title or certificate, a CGC certificate, etc

While an obedience title is great, not everyone with a trained SD wants to get into competition. MANY people with disabilities live in poverty. AKC competition gets expensive. Additionally, those titles, as well as the CGC are only representative of that one day.

e) Video demonstrations of the dog's training

This would be part of the training log.

f) In person demonstrations of the dog's training

Are you qualified to judge this? Are you a judge at the local AKC club?

Honestly, these requirements will get you into trouble with the fair housing people, even though they are a great idea.

You can request documentation from a medical professional that prospective resident has a disability and can benefit from a SD to mitigate the disability and lead a full life. You may or may not get it. My Dr would provide it if I asked her to, but many of them won't say a word about a dog - just that a person has a disability that effects their ability to do X, Y and Z.

If they have a dog from any of the major programs, such as Canine Companions for Independence, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Dogs for the Deaf, Dogs for Diabetics, they already have that paperwork and a trained dog. For the rest, there is not, unfortunately, much regulation. Aside from the statement from the medical professional, about the only thing you can do is evaluate the dog yourself. If you take your own over when you meet the dog, it is calm, non-aggressive, etc, not much you can do to deny it. You can ask, "What tasks does the dog do to mitigate your disability?" Answers may vary. There is a lot of discussion as to whether calming the person when they are stressed is a task or not. Leading the person to a door in a crowded room when they are fighting off a panic attack is certainly a task, however, and you'd simply have to take their word. Under the ADA, calming a person may or may not be a task, depending on the disability if phrased. A lot of Psych SDs are trained to wake a person from a nightmare and lay on them to provide support while they come out of the nightmare. It is a specific task even though it seems more emotional support than anything.

For the Spay/neuter question, Assistance Dogs International (ADI) recommends that a SD be spayed/neutered, but they do not have force of law. There is no requirement that a SD be neutered, it is just a best practice. A group I'm part of is working for a real registration that that would include spay/neutering, but it isn't a done deal yet. There are a couple of registration services that are trying to get off the ground, but they are only registering veterans. Nothing against vets (someday my son will be one) but there are a lot of people with disabilities who never served in the armed forces. ADI has member organizations, but again, that may not mean anything. They only register orgs that are non-profit. There are a lot of trainers who train a couple of dogs each year who are not eligible for ADI membership because they are a small business. It is confusing. It will be for some time.

--131.151.xx.xx




ESA Policy (by David [NC]) Posted on: Oct 10, 2018 4:11 PM
Message:

@John (MI)

I'll review my policies but at that same time you need a criteria on which to judge if something is what they say it is. You do not have to take the word of the tenant that they have a ESA or service dog. They must present some kind of evidence that it is, in fact, what they say it is.

A policy just shows what you will accept as evidence. --65.188.xxx.xxx




ESA Policy (by John... [MI]) Posted on: Oct 10, 2018 6:59 PM
Message:

Correct, you absolutely CAN ask for documentation from a healthcare professional. I never said that you had to "take the word of the tenant." That doesn't change the fact that many of your requirements are illegal.

Your policy is not acceptable. Barb, who knows her stuff and actually HAS a Service Animal, has just confirmed it.

Having a written policy that "just shows what you will accept as evidence" that state you require "evidence" that is not allowed is going to get you into MORE trouble than not having a policy at all! You've just provided them WRITTEN PROOF that you are violating the Fair Housing Act.

- John...

--96.40.xx.xx




ESA Policy (by LisaFL [FL]) Posted on: Oct 10, 2018 8:21 PM
Message:

The best way to avoid ESA scammers is to simply have strict standards and quality properties that attract quality pet owners who have pets you deem acceptable. --75.89.xx.xxx




ESA Policy (by David [NC]) Posted on: Oct 11, 2018 6:49 AM
Message:

@John (MI)

Since no one what's to be non-compliant with HUD / ESA. How do you feel about this paired down verbiage for the applicant?

To have an animal be considered in your rental application as an emotional support animal or service animal, you must include the following with your filled out application:

1. a written request for an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation.

2. evidence from your healthcare provider of a disability

3. evidence from your healthcare provider that you have a disability-related need for an assistance animal

--71.217.xxx.xxx




ESA Policy (by Barb [MO]) Posted on: Oct 11, 2018 7:37 AM
Message:

David - (Obviously not John, but I'll provide my opinion.)

That should work. It actually works for both an ESA and a SD.

For an ESA, the PWD (Person with Disability) does need to establish that the ESA is a part of the treatment plan.

For a SD, it depends. For obvious disabilities, blind, deaf or wheelchair, the courts have already weighed in stating that those disabilities are visible or obvious, and the PWD does not have to establish their disability. For mental health or invisible disabilities, the PWD should expect to provide documentation linking their disability and the services the dog provides.

It is murky. --131.151.xx.xx




ESA Policy (by David [NC]) Posted on: Oct 11, 2018 8:25 AM
Message:

Thanks Barb for responding. I think as LLs we need to have a standard policy for approaching this subject. No one wants to be the subject of an investigation but we need guidelines that are clear and not murky. I think, as you say, when it is obvious - it is obvious but with all the weasels in the world trying to get something for nothing the LL needs clear guidelines to go by. --71.217.xxx.xxx




ESA Policy (by John... [MI]) Posted on: Oct 11, 2018 11:36 AM
Message:

I agree with Barb, as usual. I would add this: in my opinion, you need a different policy for Service Animals versus Emotional Support Animals. What you can ask for is slightly different. Also, Service Animals are rarely faked because it is usually much easier to fake an ESA (and most SAs show a more visible purpose where it is often obvious).

I've personally never had anyone with a Service Animal apply (in 10+ years of doing this with 12 units). I have had multiple ESA people apply though. So, I wouldn't worry as much about the SA people -- and for the ESA people, I do something like this:

---

"The applicant must provide written verification that they have a disability and that the accommodation is necessary to give the tenant equal opportunity to use and enjoy the community. The applicant should obtain a signed letter on professional letterhead from his or her own healthcare or mental health provider and that provider must answering the following questions: 1) Is the person disabled as defined by the Fair Housing laws? and 2) In the healthcare providerís professional opinion, does the person need the requested use of the animal to have the same opportunity as a non-disabled person to use and enjoy the housing community?"

---

That is what I provide to them when they tell me that they have an ESA.

- John...

--24.180.xxx.xxx




ESA Policy (by Barb [MO]) Posted on: Oct 11, 2018 1:44 PM
Message:

The other thing to keep in mind is that we talk about ESAs and SDs separately, but in reality the Fair Housing Act does not separate them as much. SDs have public access to places an ESA can't go. I take my SD with me to the office, to the grocery store, etc. He generally goes where I go. An ESA stays home even when the PWD is gone from home.

The Fair Housing Act calls them "Assistance Animals" and has less distinction between them. archives.hud.gov/news/2013/pr13-060.cfm has a link about them.

Most of us are not bound by the ADA, but we are bound buy the FHA.

The text from the FHAct can be found at archives.hud.gov/news/2013/servanimals_ntcfheo2013-01.pdf

--131.151.xx.xx




ESA Policy (by John... [MI]) Posted on: Oct 11, 2018 2:07 PM
Message:

Indeed -- they are the same when it comes to how LLs have to treat/accept them. The only thing I separate them on for us is what we can ask for as far as documentation goes.

- John...

--24.180.xxx.xxx




ESA Policy (by BRAD 20,000 [IN]) Posted on: Oct 11, 2018 11:03 PM
Message:

rentON,

1. A proper lease requires rentersí insurance for EVERY lease. It protects the LL. Add a clause to your lease NOW.

2. All tnis talk about requirements...the law is clear...you CAN NOT REQUIRE ANYTHING if itís a service or emotional support animal. NOTHING. No vet records, no letters, no nothing. Nada.

You can ask 2 questions A. Do you have a condition that requires the animal? B. What task does the animal perform to assist you?

And then their answer does not matter because they will an generic answer which the LL must accept.

IF THEY OFFER, a LETTER OF MEDICAL NECESSITY is the ONLY legit documentation recognized by federal law. MY Fair Housing director says if there is uncertainty she can ask for the letter, which is only good for 365 days then expires.

Me? My app says

List all animals ______

Important info we should know ________

If they donít list the animal I can deny based on misleading info (lying) on the app.

My lease reminds them that falsifying a support or service animal is fraud and leads to fines and possible jail time in many states (19;states have such laws). This is on the lease to give me some leverage for animals brought in during occupancy.

BRAD

--68.50.xxx.xxx




ESA Policy (by John... [MI]) Posted on: Oct 12, 2018 6:29 AM
Message:

Brad: We've discussed this over and over again. I wish you would stop stating things that your local housing person told you when it clearly often isn't accurate.

We absolutely CAN ask for documentation for an Emotional Support Animal. I don't know why you keep saying that we can't ask for anything. The law is clear and HUD has made statements that make it clear that we can ask for documentation from a healthcare provider that the person is considered disabled under the law and that the animal helps them mitigate that in some way.

You are simply wrong to state that we can't ask for anything.

You then go on to state the two questions that are aimed at SERVICE ANIMALS, but even then you get them wrong (and that is not the same thing as ESAs). You keep mixing Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals. While we do have to treat them the same when it comes to offering housing -- they are NOT the same when it comes to verifying that they are valid.

For an SA, we can ask two questions:

1. Do you have a disability (but not what it is).

2. What service or task does the animal perform for you (if it is not obvious such as a seeing-eye dog).

Your first question -- about whether or not they REQUIRE the animal -- is incorrect. As Barb has pointed out, for a Service Animal, the animal need not be REQUIRED. It is sometimes by CHOICE, but still a valid Service Animal.

For an ESA, we can ask for documentation from a healthcare provider -- as pointed out in a post above.

People need to be very careful taking advice from people here that just go "I asked my local housing person and they said this." What they said will not matter in court. The law matters in court.

- John...

--24.180.xxx.xxx




ESA Policy (by Barb [MO]) Posted on: Oct 12, 2018 10:28 AM
Message:

Regarding assistance animals and vet records:

We can certainly require any that are required under local or state law. My local community requires a Rabies vaccination. I can definitely require a copy of that certificate of any cat, dog or ferret coming into one of my homes. That is NOT an unreasonable request since it is listed under local and state law.

Assistance animals are explicitly not exempt from state or locally required vaccinations such as rabies for a reason.

Anything else can be part of a friendly conversation.

Me: what flea preventative do you use? We want to be sure your animal is protected since there are feral cats in the neighborhood.

Mark it down.... Thanks. If they donít use any, remind them that if an infestation occurs, they are responsible for costs to treat. --172.58.xxx.xxx



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