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Laws Regarding Assistance Animals in Utah Rental Properties

Laws Regarding Assistance Animals in Utah Rental Properties

This is Tanya with Envy Property Management, over the next several weeks we are going to be doing an educational video series about assistance animals in property management. There are many laws surrounding assistance animals and many people are misinformed about the laws, regulations, and processes to allow assistance animals in their rentals. This can sometimes be a touchy subject for both the landlord and the tenants so it’s essential to be well informed about what you can and can not do as a landlord. 

We are going to start out our video series today talking about the laws regarding assistance animals in Utah. Many landlords may have a “No Pet Policy” in place but still understanding the need to allow “Service Animals” if ever needed. What many landlords may be shocked about is the fact that the “Emotional Support Animal” laws supersede your no pet policy as well. The reason why is because an ESA animal is NOT considered a pet. It is an assistance device similar to a wheelchair to provide assistance with a disability.

First, let’s talk about the Federal Fair Housing Act. This act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in housing and applies to almost all rental housing.

The Federal Rehabilitation Act Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in housing and also applies to housing that receives federal financial assistance from HUD.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in public accommodations and also applies to public and common areas in housing that are accessible to the public.

Although state Laws vary, many states will mirror the federal laws.

Under the Fair Housing Act and Section 504, it defines an assistance animal as “An animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines “service animal” as “Dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Companion Animals (also referred to as emotional support animals) are excluded from this definition for purposes of the ADA. Miniature Horses are included in a separate provision.

To go into further detail about the definition of “Assistance Animals” I am now going to talk about the many terms used to define “Assistance Animal.”

#1:  Assistance Animal 

An assistance animal is a broad term for ALL animals for which a qualified disabled person under the FHA and Section 504 has requested an accommodation. The biggest confusion in this area is the fact that an Assistance Animal does NOT require training or certification and can be ANY type of animal, not just a dog.

#2:  Service Animals 

Service animals are a sub-section of Assistance Animals. They are generally animals that have been trained to perform specific functions for a disabled person. For example, Guide dogs for the blind, seizure alert animals, and animals trained to assist the hearing impaired.

#3:  Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals, or ESA, are also another sub-section of Assistance Animals. These animals provide emotional support to persons with disabilities that need such support.

#4:  Companion Animals: 

Companion animals is another term for Emotional Support Animals. It is often used in state laws and in the ADA.  For purposes of housing matters, Emotional Support Animals is the preferred term.

#5:  Therapy Animals:

Therapy animals is a term most often used to describe an animal that is used in therapy with the disabled. In its most common usage, it is not an Assistance Animal under the FHA or Section 504.

This wraps up today’s video regarding the laws surrounding assistance animals, stay tuned for next weeks’ video when we talk about how to qualify an assistance animal for your rental property. 
If you have any further questions regarding Assistance Animals in your rental property we would be happy to talk with you more about it. Give us a call at 801-337-4337, or you can also see our other videos on Assistance Animals on our website: Thanks for watching and we’ll see you next time.