Support animals provide a valuable service to many people with disabilities. However, there is a dark side to them. Because emotional support animals don't require any training, they can sometimes endanger communities.
This fact can often put property owners in Woodbridge, VA in a difficult position. On one hand, they want to accommodate people with disabilities.
On the other hand, untrained support animals can damage properties and endanger other tenants. In this article, we'll discuss how property owners in Virginia can safely comply with ESA owners in their communities.
What Are Support Animals?
Support animals are used to provide therapeutic comfort for people with mental conditions. It's important to note that support animals are different from service animals.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are used to respond to medical emergencies. Hearing and guide dogs would also fall in this category.
Service dogs are required to have extensive training. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, require no training at all. As such, they're not fit for disability-specific tasks.
Do Tenants Have Rights Regarding Their Support Animals?
To get an emotional support animal, tenants must get approved by a professional mental health provider. If they get approved, they'll receive an official letter according to Virginia state law.
The rights surrounding support animals come from the Fair Housing Act. This housing law which you can read in full here, states that you cannot discriminate against tenants if they have disabilities.
That means you cannot refuse to have an ESA. What's more, you also cannot charge more for it. However, the law also states that the ESA must be trained. It cannot be too loud or an inconvenience to the landlord or the community.
Can Woodbridge, VA Property Owners Deny Support Animals?
Unfortunately, no property owners cannot deny emotional support to animals. This is true regardless of the animal's size, breed, or weight. What's more, you're also not allowed to charge pet fees for ESAs.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if the support animal causes significant amounts of damage to your property, the owner will need to pay a fee.
What's more, there are certain circumstances where you're within your rights to deny the animal. For example, if the animal is extremely disruptive to the community.
Or, if the animal is violent toward other animals or tenants, that can be grounds for denial as well. Ultimately, it depends on the community and HOA compliance rules associated with it.
Need Help Dealing With Support Animals in Your Properties? Contact PMI Prince William
Dealing with disputes involving support animals in Woodbridge, VA can get ugly quickly. If you're a property owner, consider hiring a property management company to help.
Here at PMI Prince William, we'll ensure that any ESA owners remain compliant with the rules and regulations of the community.
That way, you don't have to get involved in a heated exchange between tenants. Contact us today to find out how we can help with your support animal property needs.