What Obligations Do Landlords Have for Renting to a Person with a Service Animal?
For landlords, a person with a disability cannot be denied a rental because of his or her service animal, provided the person can show proof that the animal assists, supports or provides services to that person. Such proof can be shown by a statement from a health care provider that “the animal performs a function that ameliorates the effects of the person’s disability.” NRS 118.105. In representing landlords, caution should be used to ensure the landlord does not require unreasonable proof, as that could be considered to be discrimination against the person with the disability.
With respect to federal law, when it comes to landlord-tenant situations, it is the FHA that applies. FHEO Notice-2013-01, issued April 25, 2013, sets forth the requirements for complying with the FHA when it comes to animals helping people with disabilities. Some of the salient points include the following:
1.The FHA uses the term “assistance animals” and not service animals. An assistance animal is an animal that works, provides assistance or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability;
2.Assistance animals are not limited to dogs under the FHA;
3.While housing providers may normally require a pet deposit, they may not require applicants or a resident to pay a deposit for an assistance animal;
4.Housing providers may ask individuals who have disabilities that are not readily apparent or known to the provider to submit reliable documentation of a disability and or disability-related need for an assistance animal. Further, if the disability is readily apparent or known, but the disability-related need for the assistance animal is not, then the housing provider may ask the individual to provide documentation of the disability-related need for an assistance animal;
5.A housing provider may not ask an applicant or tenant to provide access to medical records or medical providers, or provide detailed or extensive information or documentation of a person’s physical or mental impairments;
6.A request for reasonable accommodation may not be unreasonably denied, or conditioned on payment of a fee or deposit, or other terms and conditions that apply to applicants or residents with pets, and a response may not be unreasonably delayed.
Nevada law generally tracks federal law, but there are significant differences, only some of which we have covered here.5 Accordingly, when dealing with service animals, the practitioner would do well to pay attention to both applicable Nevada law and to federal law.