Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets

Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets

When you decide to rent out your Portland home, there are a host of laws you must become familiar with before you sign your first lease agreement.

One of these applies to assistance animals. Under the Fair Housing Act, landlords must accommodate the needs of tenants with assistance animals. These animals fall into two precisely defined categories, i.e., service animals and emotional support animals.

If you're an investment property owner in Portland, Oregon, with a no-pet policy, keep reading while we explore the differences between pets, support animals, and service animals.

Defining Service Animals

The ADA makes a clear distinction between service animals and support animals, but this does not exclude support animals from the provisions of the Fair Housing Act.

Titles II and III of the ADA define service animals as dogs trained to do a specific task for a person with a disadvantage. These afflictions may be sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or physical.

Some states also allow miniature horses to step into this role. These services include the following:

  • Picking up on autism signals
  • Assisting someone having a seizure
  • Helping blind people get around
  • Helping deaf people recognize sounds
  • Assisting wheelchair-bound people

Landlords must make reasonable accommodations to allow these animals to cohabit with their owners. They must waive certain pet rules when a person with a disability applies to rent a home. These rules include pet deposits and no-pet policies.

What Are Support Animals?

Support animals mostly work with people who have mental disorders, like depression and anxiety. Some even help alleviate loneliness for affected people.

Others buffer people from stressful situations or help them cope with these situations. While emotional support animals offer great comfort to their owners, they don't perform specific tasks for them.

Due to this, they aren't classified in the same league as service animals.

People who need assistance from a support animal may obtain a letter from a medical professional describing their condition and the need for the services of the animal.

If a tenant produces such a letter, the landlord must make the same accommodations as they do for other assistance animals.

About Pets

Any animal that does not meet the above criteria is classified as a pet. Over half the families in the U.S. own pets. These include exotic animals, birds, fish, dogs, cats, and horses.

So, when you allow pets in a rental property, you'll enjoy more tenant applications. You can also charge higher rents.

Relaxing your rental rules does come with risks, such as an increased chance of damage to your property or noise disturbances. You can mitigate these risks by charging a pet deposit, screening prospective tenants, and carrying out regular property inspections.

Make the Best Choices for Your Investment Property

While you can't refuse occupation to service and support animals, landlords can decide whether to allow pets in their homes or not.

PMI Bridgetown can help you make big decisions more easily. We are backed by over two decades of experience in Oregon real estate and offer a full range of property management services.

Read our blog for more landlord advice, or sign up for success with your Portland, Oregon, investment property.