Dogs may be a man’s best friend. However, they can be a landlord’s worst nightmare. And this explains why most landlords include a “no pet “clause in their lease contracts. So, what happens when a tenant brings a pet into a rented property without your consent?
Regardless of how you feel about the tenant bringing a dog into the rented property, it is important that your actions are informed by the law.
Understanding California’s “reasonable accommodation” law
California law requires housing providers, including landlords, to make “reasonable accommodations” for renters. Basically, this refers to an exception, adjustment or change in rules, practices, services or policies that is necessary for individuals living with disabilities to adequately use and enjoy their rented property. One of these accommodations may involve allowing an ailing or a disabled tenant to own an assistance animal despite the existence of a “no-pet” policy.
What types of animals do the “reasonable accommodation” rule apply to?
Under California law, the following animals fall under the “assistance animals” category:
Service animals – these animals are specially trained to offer specific assistance to disabled individuals, including those with mental health disabilities. These include:
- Service dogs – these dogs are trained to perform rescue work, pull wheelchairs or collect dropped items.
- Guide dogs – these dogs are trained by licensed trainers
- Signal dogs – these dogs are trained to alert owners with hearing difficulty
- Miniature horses – these horses are trained to perform similar tasks as service dogs
Support animals – these animals provide cognitive, emotional or other support to disabled individuals. Also known as emotional support or comfort animals, these animals may or may not be trained.
Can you terminate a lease contract if a tenant violates a “no pet” policy?
The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, including whether the animal in question could reasonably be considered an assistance or support animal. With that said, understanding California’s tenancy laws can help you protect your rights and interests while dealing with a tenant who seems to have violated a “no pet” policy.