Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets: A Guide for Smyrna Landlords

Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets: A Guide for Smyrna Landlords

Fido is a lot more than just a furry friend. When asked if pets are members of the family, 97% of pet owners in the US said yes.

Regardless of what people think about their pets, though, it doesn't change the fact that landlords can forbid them. The water does start to get murky, however, when discussing support animals. After all, some of them have legal protections, and denying them could land you in court.

So what's the difference between service animals, support animals, and pets in Smyrna? In this guide, we offer some helpful landlord advice before denying tenants with animals.

What Are Service Animals?

Service animals are a type of support animal. They are usually dogs that have received specialized training. They aid a person with a recognized disability.

For example, a service animal may help a person who suffers seizures to stay safe during an attack. As such, the vast majority of the time service animals are essential for their owner's well-being.

Housing Laws for Service Animals

Service animals are not pets, and so pet rules do not apply to them. This is backed up by the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against disabled people.

Therefore, you cannot deny a person's application if they have a service animal. Further, they have no obligation to report this service animal to you. This is part of tenant rights.

What Are Support Animals?

A support animal typically refers to an emotional support animal or ESA. These are not protected by the ADA. However, they do have some legal protections, so it's an essential first-time landlord tip to check ESA laws in Smyrna.

An ESA is an emotional companion prescribed by a therapist. It can be any animal, not just a dog. The animal requires no training to become one.

Housing Laws for ESAs

Again, check with your local Smyrna legislation. Regulations on ESAs vary from place to place.

What Is a Pet?

A pet is exactly that, a pet. It can be any type of animal from a parrot to a lizard. Pets may bring their owners joy, but they don't serve any official clinical role in terms of therapy or assistance.

Housing Laws for Pets

Pets are animals that people choose to keep for pleasure, so they have no legal protections. You are well within your rights to disallow pets on your property. Unless you have a pet-friendly rental, tenants would be breaking the lease to have one.

That said, it may be a good idea to allow pets. Who knows? It may persuade tenants to renew their lease.

Find Property Management in Smyrna

Service animals, support animals, and pets are all very different entities under the law. Service animals have ADA protection, while emotional support animals only get protection in certain jurisdictions. Pets have no legal protections, and therefore you can deny applications for pet owners.

PMI Terminus in Smyrna, Georgia, helps you manage your properties the right way. We're individually owned and operated, and offer our clients decades of invaluable experience. Get started with our free rental analysis.