Something interesting happened with us and one of our tenants, so I thought it would present me with a good opportunity to talk about service animals. Last week, I received a phone call from a tenant who said she had purchased a service animal and brought the animal home, and wanted to let us know. There are a lot of laws protecting people who need service animals, and there is also a process that needs to be followed when a service animal is needed.
Utah Laws and Pets
In Utah, you can have a no-pet policy at your rental property. It’s not a problem, and it’s not discriminating against anyone. But there are hiccups if someone needs a service animal, a companion animal, or a comfort animal. Then, we have to allow that individual to have the animal. But there’s a process, and anyone experienced in Salt Lake City property management can tell you what that process is.
Required Documentation for Service Animals
So I sent the proper form, which is a one-page form, to the tenant who had called me. This form requires a tenant to identify a couple of things. They have to disclose what kind of animal their service animal is, and they must also disclose why they need that animal. It’s necessary to state how that animal helps them. Tenants who need service animals also have to have a licensed professional or a physician sign off on that request form. Once they send that form back to us, we have to allow the animal.
I informed the tenant that the process needed to be followed, and told her she had to fill out the form that I attached to the email. The email never came back and the form was not returned. Four days later, the animal shelter called me and asked if I was the property manager. The tenant had gone to the shelter and told them she was authorized to have an animal in the home. I explained the process she needed to follow, and I was grateful that the animal shelter called me. It makes sense that the don’t want to send an animal to a home if it’s not going to be able to stay.
Avoid Discrimination and Remain Consistent
The animal shelter declined giving the animal to the tenant, and while I reached out again, I never heard back from the tenant. I thought it was important to talk about this, because landlords who don’t use professional property management in Salt Lake City might run into a similar situation. Don’t ever discriminate. You cannot charge an extra security deposit for a service animal, you cannot charge higher rent or additional pet rent for a service animal. Keep your process consistent when it comes to service animals so that you don’t find yourself being accused of discrimination.
If you have any questions about how to handle a service animal, please contact us at Property Solutions of Utah.