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Do I have to allow assistance animals in my rental homes? 

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A black Labrador retriever in a red leash stands at his owner's side on a paved walking path in a park.

02/23/2016 | Author: Editorial Staff

I own and lease six single-family houses and prohibit pets in all of them. A tenant who uses a guide dog applied to lease one of my houses. If I accept him as a qualified tenant, will I have to allow the animal on the property?

Yes. The Fair Housing Act requires property owners to allow tenants to have assistance animals, including emotional support animals, on the property. There is an exemption for single-family housing sold or rented without using a broker if the owner doesn’t own more than three single-family houses at one time, but that wouldn’t apply in this situation.

You are allowed to ask for certain information once the tenant has requested a reasonable accommodation for the assistance animal:

  • If the tenant’s disability is not readily apparent or known, you can ask for reliable documentation of a disability. This documentation may be from a physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional.
  • If the tenant’s disability is readily apparent or known, but the need to accommodate for the disability is not readily apparent or known, then you may request only information necessary to evaluate the need for the accommodation.
  • If the disability and the need to accommodate for the disability are both known, then you may not ask for any documentation.

Note that a property owner cannot require a tenant to pay a pet deposit or any other additional deposit as a condition for allowing an assistance animal in a rental property, but a tenant with an assistance animal will still be considered legally responsible for any damage caused by that animal.

Have a question about buying, selling, or leasing property in Texas? Ask us. Not all submitted questions will be answered.

Categories: Property Management, Legal, Landlords, Renters
Tags: legal, landlord, renter, tenant, assistance animals, fair housing act

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The material provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be considered as legal advice for your particular matter. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Applicability of the legal principles discussed in this material may differ substantially in individual situations.

While the Texas Association of REALTORS® has used reasonable efforts in collecting and preparing materials included here, due to the rapidly changing nature of the real estate marketplace and the law, and our reliance on information provided by outside sources, the Texas Association of REALTORS® makes no representation, warranty, or guarantee of the accuracy or reliability of any information provided here or elsewhere on Any legal or other information found here, on, or at other sites to which we link, should be verified before it is relied upon.

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