Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets

Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets

Owning a rental property in Fairfax, VA, involves a lot of hard work and decision-making. You need to set a fair rental rate, choose tenants in line with the law, and figure out how to accomplish all the other tasks associated with being a landlord.

Deciding whether to allow pets in your investment property can be one of the most impactful decisions you make as a landlord.

While you ultimately have the final say about allowing pets in your rental property, that's not the case for service and support animals. Keep reading to find out why.

Service Animals Defined

Dogs most often fulfill the role of service animals, although ponies are recognized in some states, too. These highly trained animals perform specific tasks for people suffering from permanent afflictions.

These include:

  • Opening doors for wheelchair-bound people
  • Identifying sounds for deaf people
  • Helping blind people find their way around

You cannot deny assistance animals access to your investment property, and you can't charge their owners an additional pet deposit either.

What Do Support Animals Do?

Support animals are different to service animals in that they don't always perform a clearly defined task for their owners. Many of these dogs and ponies have intangible functions like providing emotional support, comfort, or company for people suffering from mental or psychological disorders.

Support animals fall under the banner of assistance animals too, so they get the same benefits as service animals do when it comes to housing.

The Pros and Cons of Allowing Pets in a Rental Property

Americans love their pets, and more than 60% of U.S. citizens own at least one pet. This means you're excluding many potential tenants if you have a no-pet policy for your rental units.

Since many of these people regard pets as part of the family, they're prepared to go to great lengths to find them accommodation, including paying higher rent prices. Due to the scarcity of pet-friendly accommodations, these tenants are also more likely to renew their leases and take good care of the rental property.

There are drawbacks to allowing pets in a rental unit, too. Dogs may chew things, resulting in increased property maintenance, they may soil flooring materials, or create unpleasant lingering odors in your rental house.

Regular rental property inspections are not just effective for checking on property maintenance issues, they can also help you keep tabs on damages caused to your property by tenants or their pets. Thorough tenant screening may also help limit the risks of allowing pets in your rental unit.

Make the Right Decisions for Your Investment Property

Service and support animals play important and necessary roles in the lives of their owners, so they aren't classified as pets. That means you'll need to make accommodations for tenants who own these types of animals.

An experienced property manager can help you comply with these legal obligations.

PMI Fairfax clients enjoy the benefits of our partnership with PMI Property Management, a nationwide franchise with over 20 years of real estate experience. Our team offers a full range of services for Fairfax landlords, including property maintenance, property inspections, and tenant screening services.

Get help navigating the complexities of having animals in your Fairfax investment properties.