Service Animals 101: Laws and Regulations for Rental Properties in Albuquerque

Rental property owners can use their own discretion when deciding whether or not to provide a pet-friendly property. You have the agency to allow pets, not allow pets, or consider each pet on a case-by-case basis.

However, when it comes to service animals, you’re required to follow fair housing laws that protect people with disabilities. Service animals are not pets. They are legally considered accommodations.

When renting out a property in Albuquerque, expensive mistakes can be made if you’re not aware of the laws protecting service animals, emotional support animals, and companion animals. There are some specific things related to these animals that you can and can’t do when it comes to leasing your home, screening your tenants, and managing your property.

Service and Support Animals Are Not Pets

You cannot deny otherwise qualified applicants who want to move into your property with a service animal. You cannot charge a pet deposit or pet rent for tenants who have service animals. Fair housing laws require you to make reasonable accommodations for people who have physical, intellectual, and emotional disabilities. Service animals qualify as accommodations that you need to make. Think of them the same way you’d think of a wheelchair ramp or a handrail. They’re necessary.

Reducing Liability with Service Animals in Albuquerque

While you have to allow service animals into your property when a tenant needs the accommodation, there are some ways you can mitigate your liability and the risk to your property.

First, you can ask for required documentation. Service animals are going to have paperwork explaining exactly what they do. The most common types of service animals are Seeing Eye Dogs or Seizure Response Dogs.

Emotional support animals are a little different. The animals are designated as providing emotional support, and instead of having paperwork, the tenant will need to procure an authorization or some kind of documentation from their medical doctor or healthcare provider. This will outline what the animal is needed for.

You’re permitted to do some due diligence while screening tenants and support animals. You can contact the doctor who signed off on the tenant’s documentation to confirm everything.

Tenant Responsibilities with Service Animals

service dogTenants are also responsible for their service and support animals. You cannot charge a pet deposit, but you can still charge a security deposit, and if there is damage to the property after a tenant moves out due to the animal, you can deduct the cost of repairs.

You can also require your tenant to clean up after the service or support animal and keep it from being a nuisance to neighbors and other tenants in a building.

This is still a confusing area of the law for many rental property owners and landlords, and it’s always evolving. We’re here to help you stay in compliance. If you have any questions about pets, service animals, or anything pertaining to Albuquerque property management, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Bruni Karr Rental & Management Agency.