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Support Animals in Rental Properties: A Guide for San Diego Landlords

Support Animals in Rental Properties: A Guide for San Diego Landlords

In 2019 there were more than 200,000 emotional support animals in the US.

Many people rely on support animals to help them live a normal life, but what happens when they want to live somewhere that doesn't allow pets? This is something for San Diego landlords to consider, as there are certain laws surrounding the subject.

For a guide on support animals in San Diego rental properties, keep reading.

What Are Emotional Support Animals?

An ESA (emotional support animal) provides some form of emotional support to its owner or others. The most common example is dogs which tend to do this through physical affection, or sometimes simply with their presence.

Support animals are often confused with service animals, but the two are different. Service animals are trained for specific tasks such as guide dogs which help the blind.

San Diego Support Animal Laws

For anyone with an ESA in California, certain laws are in place that can help them when looking for a home to rent. As a landlord in San Diego, you need to abide by these laws. Some of these include:

  • Tenants with disabilities may keep an ESA, regardless of your pet policies for your property
  • You cannot charge fees, deposits, or increased rent for ESAs for disabled tenants
  • Comply with making “reasonable” changes to accommodate a disabled tenant if needed

The state of California also has certain requirements that a support animal must meet:

  • Must alleviate the owner's disabilities
  • The animal cannot present a risk to the property or any neighbors
  • Doesn't cause administrative or financial burdens for the landlord
  • Doesn't alter the services the landlord or homeowner's association needs to provide

If all of these aren't met, you might not be required to let the tenant move in with their support animal.

Confirming a Support Animal's Status

In some rare cases, a tenant will want to bring a regular pet into a property and may claim that it's an ESA to get around no-pet policies. If you think this might be the case with one of your tenants, you'll need factual evidence if you want to refuse the tenant entry.

When a tenant says they want to bring in a support animal, you can ask for proof, which they can get from an authorized medical professional. At this point, it can also be a good idea to contact the tenant's last landlord. You can then ask them about the support animal for confirmation.

Can You Reject a Tenant With an Emotional Support Animal?

You can, but not simply because you don't want animals on the property. There need to be other circumstances, such as the animal causing damage or if the animal is too large for the property.

Following the Rules

Regardless of what policies you have regarding pets, there may be times when you have to allow a tenant to keep an ESA. It's worth noting that, in most cases, support animals are well-trained, so it's unlikely that you will encounter any issues.

Dealing with this is just one small aspect of property management, and the job as a whole can get very difficult. If you need assistance, a property management company like Income Property Advisory can help. You can click here to see more information about our property management services.