Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets

Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets

Over 40% of California households own a pet and most of them own at least one dog. As a Beverly Hills, California, real estate investor, knowing this information is paramount.

A large portion of residents are pet owners, so you should consider allowing pets in your rental property. While you can charge extra for pets, you cannot charge for service or emotional support animals (ESAs).

Keep reading to learn the differences between them.

What Are Service Animals?

A service animal is a dog trained to perform tasks to benefit someone with a disability. According to the ADA, service animals can be any breed or size of dog.

They may be trained to work with those dealing with these types of disabilities:

  • Intellectual
  • Mental
  • Psychiatric
  • Physical
  • Sensory

A service animal isn't required to undergo a professional training program or wear a vest indicating that they are a service animal. They are not emotional support animals.

Landlords cannot request documentation that the dog is registered, certified, or licensed as a service animal. You also cannot require the dog to perform its tasks related to the disability.

Tenants are protected from eviction for having service animals under the Fair Housing Act.

What Are Emotional Support Animals?

Not all animals meet the definition of a service animal, but landlords can't discriminate against those with emotional support animals either.

An emotional support animal can be any animal (not just a dog) that provides emotional support to alleviate one or more symptoms affecting someone's disability.

Emotional support animals don't have special training to perform tasks that help people with disabilities, instead they:

  • Relieve loneliness
  • Provide companionship
  • Help with depression, anxiety, and some phobias

You must provide reasonable accommodation for people with emotional support animals. This means you cannot charge a pet deposit for emotional support animals or service animals.

What Are Pets?

Pets are animals kept by humans as a source of companionship. While service animals get training and ESAs have letters of support, pets don't have either. An ESA is not a service animal, but it is also not a pet under the law.

You can charge a deposit or monthly rent if you choose to allow pets in a rental property. You can make more income on your investment property by charging these fees.

Additionally, you can reap these benefits of allowing pet owners to rent out your property:

  • A wider pool of applicants
  • Responsible tenants
  • Long-term tenants

A property manager can help you screen tenants with pets.

Work With Beverly Hills Property Management

Landlords in Beverly Hills, California, need to know the difference between service animals, emotional support animals, and pets. To stay compliant with the federal Fair Housing Act, you cannot charge extra for service animals or ESAs.

PMI Beverly Hills is a full-service property management company that can keep you on track when it comes to local laws and regulations. For more than 20 years, we've been helping landlords like you exceed their investment goals.

By setting the maximum rent possible and charging for pets, you can increase your investment with ease. Contact us today for a partner you can trust.