The Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets

The Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets

Due to the Fair Housing Act, you must allow service and emotional support animals into any property you own. This means you have to take on the risks that come with having an animal in your rental property, which can be frustrating.

However, your hands might not be as tired as you think when a tenant says they have a service animal. They may be trying to pass their pet off for something it's not. But how can you tell the difference?

Read on to learn about how a pet, a service animal, and an emotional support animal differ.

What Are Service Animals?

Service animals are animals trained to help people with disabilities. Service animals are usually dogs, but there are some service miniature horses. If a potential tenant claims any other animal is a service animal during a tenant screening, they're probably lying.

Types of Service Animals

You've likely heard of guide dogs, which are dogs that help guide blind individuals. This is one type of service dog, but there are also several other types. Service dogs can:

  • Alert deaf people to sounds
  • Detect psychiatric episodes and mitigate them
  • Grab and carry items for the physically disabled
  • Alert autistic individuals of overstimulation or repetitive behaviors
  • Assist a handler when a seizure occurs

Miniature horses can do these tasks as well. However, dogs are usually the go-to because they're easier to train.

Working Dogs

It's important to not confuse the term "service dog" with the term "working dog." Working dogs are in a different category. They tend to work in commercial sectors rather than civilian sectors.

Comfort or therapy dogs are a good example of this. They tend to support hospital patients with their stress. Police, hunting, herding, and military dogs are also examples of working dogs.

What Are Emotional Support Animals?

Emotional support animals (ESAs) also help people with disabilities. However, these animals are usually not trained in any way. Most of the time, their presence is enough to relieve loneliness and certain mental disorders like anxiety and depression.

Any animal can be an ESA. However, a person can't just decide their pet is one. A qualified medical professional needs to approve the animal for this service. If your tenant wants you to accommodate their ESA, ask them for medical proof first.

What Are Pets?

A pet is any type of animal that does not perform the services mentioned above. You have a right to not allow pets in your rental properties if you wish. If you do allow pets, you have the right, unlike with ESA's and service animals, to ask for a pet security deposit.

Our Property Management Services Can Help

Now you know the difference between emotional support animals, service animals, and pets. Hopefully, this will help you know when you need to stand your ground against some tenants.

Do you not want to deal with difficult tenants? If so, you can let us handle them for you. We're a full-service real estate management company serving Hendersonville and surrounding communities.

Get started with us by filling out this form and getting a free rental analysis.