Traveling and road trips are one of the greatest joys in life, and bringing your dog along makes the journey that much more fun. “No pet” policies can sometimes make it challenging to travel with a pet, but individuals who have a service animal that supports their disability can rest assured they’re protected when it comes to rentals and other travel accommodations.
Can a Rental with a “No Pet” Policy Deny Service Animals?
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What is a Service Animal?
Service animals are defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as either dogs or miniature horses that receive special training to support individuals with disabilities. These animals are specifically trained to do work or perform tasks that assist a person with everyday tasks made challenging to complete on their own due to a disability.
There are two main types of service animals: those who support people with physical disabilities, and those who support people with psychiatric or mental health conditions. Both types of service animals play an essential role in assisting their handlers to enjoy a better quality of life.
Can a Rental with a “No Pet” Policy Deny Service Animals?
Rental companies are required to allow service dogs, even if they have a no-pet policy. They’re also required to waive any pet fees or cleaning fees associated with pets. Under the law service dogs are considered medical tools and not pets, meaning they aren’t subject to the same restrictions, policies, or fees associated with typical pets. Rental companies can, however, charge you for any potential damage caused to the vehicle by your service animal.
The U.S. Department of Transportation imposes federal laws that protect individuals with disabilities who need to travel with their service animals. Whether it’s by plane, train, or car, those with disabilities have the right to travel with their service animals regardless of pet policies and without any additional fees.
Service Animal Housing Laws
Individuals with disabilities who require a service animal or an emotional support animal (ESA) are protected under federal laws when it comes to housing. There are two main sets of laws that specifically address the rights of people with disabilities and their service or support animals.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is a set of federal laws that provide protection for individuals who live with a disability. It prevents discrimination and guarantees the same access to employment, transportation, education, and reasonable accommodations. The ADA also informs policies related to service animals and support animals for housing, transportation, and public access. Service animals must be allowed to go anywhere the general public is allowed to go, including businesses, public buildings, and public transportation services.
Fair Housing Act (FHA)
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) of 1968 has been amended and updated over the years to include protections informed by the ADA and its definition of assistance animals. Under the FHA, individuals who require either a service animal or an emotional support animal may not be denied housing.
These policies apply even if a building or landlord has a “no pets” policy since service animals are considered medical tools and not pets. This also means that assistance animals aren't subject to any fees or additional deposits that would normally be required for housing with a pet, and a landlord legally can’t charge you these fees.
When Can a Landlord Deny a Service Animal?
The only situation in which a landlord can legally deny a service animal or emotional support animal is if the presence of the animal poses a threat to the safety of other individuals, or if the animal may cause substantial property damage.
Even though certification isn’t required for service animals, landlords can also deny service animals that don’t exhibit proper training. When it comes to emotional support animals, landlords may require an ESA letter to be exempt from pet policies or fees.
Emotional Support Animals vs. Service Animals
There are a few differences between emotional support animals and service animals. The most prominent difference is the type of support they provide their handlers.
Emotional support animals aren’t required to undergo any training and aren’t held to any specific standards of behavior. Their presence is supportive enough for their handlers without having to do anything other than be nearby.
Service animal training on the other hand must include the ability to perform specific tasks that directly support an individual with challenges related to their disability. Service animals might help their handlers with mobility, retrieval tasks, and more.
Who Qualifies for a Service Animal?
To qualify for a service animal, you have to have a documented mental or emotional disability and a recommendation from a licensed health professional. Physical disabilities that qualify for service animals include cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and more. Disabilities that qualify for a psychiatric service animal can include autism, anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Documentation of the nature of the disability and challenges associated with it is the first step to qualifying for a service animal. The ways that a service animal would benefit the individual should also be included in the recommendation.
Those who wish to qualify for a service animal must also be able to demonstrate the ability to care for the animal and meet their basic needs for things like healthcare and daily care such as bathroom breaks and feeding.
Service Animal Training Requirements
Service animal training requirements call for animals to be individually trained to perform tasks and provide support to their handler that directly supports their disability. Service animals don’t have to be professionally trained, but they have to have undergone intense, specific training to be considered legal service animals.
Service animals who are still in training and emotional support animals don’t have the same rights as qualified, trained service animals do. Any animal that meets the requirements for being an emotional support animal will also qualify to be a service animal. If you believe your ESA would be a better benefit to you as such, learn about how to make your dog a psychiatric service dog.
Online Psychiatric Service Dog Training with Pettable
Pettable is your number one source for online psychiatric service dog training. Our expert trainers are passionate and professional. Together we’ve created digestible, self-paced, online lessons that are perfect for completing from the comfort of your own home.
Ready to start your journey to a psychiatric service dog, or need to get your emotional support animal letter for housing? Pettable is here to help. Start by taking our 3-minute assessment and get matched with one of our mental health professionals in your state. We’ll create a plan and determine your specific needs to have you on your way to the service animal support you need.