Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals, and Pets in Lynchburg, VA

Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals, and Pets in Lynchburg, VA

Deciding whether to allow pets in your rental property is a matter of preference, but that does not mean you can prevent tenants from introducing animals in your rental home.

Landlords must make exceptions for assistance animals, like service and support dogs.

Read on to discover the risks associated with allowing pets on your property and find out how to identify service and support animals.

The Pros and Cons of Allowing Pets in a Rental Unit

Around 60% of American families own a pet of some sort. So, when you don't allow pets in your rental unit, you exclude many potential tenants.

What's more, these animal-loving families are prepared to pay higher rents for the privilege of sharing their home with their pets. They're often responsible people who pay their rent on time, take care of your property, and renew their leases.

Allowing pets in rental properties also poses certain risks for landlords. Animals can create a host of problems, like:

  • Causing a disturbance by barking incessantly
  • Trespassing on neighbors' properties
  • Digging up landscaping
  • Creating lingering, unpleasant odors in your house
  • Damaging floor coverings

In some cases, dogs may even bite passers-by, which can lead to legal issues for the landlord as well as their tenants.

Interviewing families with their pets in attendance helps you gauge their level of obedience and training. This can help you make an informed choice.

You can also set up a pet policy that excludes certain species, like dogs, and charge a pet deposit to help mitigate any damages caused by pets.

What Are Service Animals?

Service animals are highly trained dogs or miniature horses that perform identifiable tasks for their owners. Their services include:

  • Helping blind people navigate their surroundings
  • Helping deaf people identify sounds, like a doorbell
  • Fetching help in the event of a medical incident, like an epileptic fit
  • Assisting wheelchair-bound people with tasks, like opening doors

Under the Fair Housing Act and Virginia service dog laws, landlords may not discriminate against tenants with service animals. They must also waive the pet deposit for these people.

Where Do Support Animals Fit in?

Support animals fall under the broader category of assistance animals. These animals don't perform specific tasks for their owners, although many are highly trained to fulfill other roles.

These include providing comfort and companionship for people with mental or psychological conditions such as depression or anxiety.

According to emotional support animal housing laws in Virginia, landlords may not discriminate against people who need animal assistance, and you must waive pet deposits for these tenants, too.

Get Help With the Difficult Questions

Although landlords have little say about allowing service and support animals in their rental units, they sometimes need a little help with the legalities involved.

Hiring a property manager helps you stay on the right side of the law regarding tenant discrimination and assists you with navigating the risks of allowing pets in your rental property, too.

With over 20 years of experience in real estate, property management services can help you navigate all the complexities of owning a Virginia investment property. We are committed to providing all our owners and tenants with five-star service and guidance in every aspect of their properties.

Let us help you make the best decisions for your Lynchburg, VA, rental properties.