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Do I Have to Tell My Landlord I Have a Service Dog?


In today’s world, service dogs play an incredibly important role in the lives of so many individuals. People with mental illness, eyesight problems, autism, etc., can truly benefit from the aid and presence of service dogs.

Many service dogs accompany individuals when they’re going to and from work or even traveling on airplanes. As great as service dogs are to those who truly need them, having a service dog can raise questions when assessing one’s living situation. As such, it’s not uncommon to wonder, “Do I have to tell my landlord I have a service dog?”

Do I Have to Tell My Landlord I Have a Service Dog? Everything You Need to Know

In most cases, landlords do reserve the right to place restrictions or even bans on the presence of animals in their buildings. However, in the case of service dogs, this dynamic changes.

Per the federal Fair Housing Act, landlords are not allowed to discriminate against individuals with disabilities or impairments, including those which require the presence of a service animal. You’ll also be pleased to know that the Fair Housing Act prohibits your landlord from discriminating against the breed or weight of your service dog or adding any pet fees to your rent. You’re also not required to inform your landlord of your specific disability or have your service dog “perform” as proof of their status as a service animal.

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Legally, you’re within your rights to have a service dog. If you’re wondering “do I have to tell my landlord I have a service dog,” the answer is no. From a lawful standpoint, you are not required to tell your landlord about your service dog; however, doing so may be advisable from a personal standpoint.

Telling My Landlord I Have A Service Dog

The decision to tell your landlord that you have a service dog can prevent any confusion or issues later down the line. For instance, a landlord who notices that you have a dog, yet isn’t aware of your dog’s status as a service dog, may attempt to charge a monthly pet fee or a pet security deposit fee. Of course, landlords are legally barred from charging tenants extra money for service animals. Still, if your landlord does not know that your dog is a service dog, this can cause problems that are easily preventable with a simple notice.

If you do decide to tell your landlord about your service dog, he or she may request to view the certification for your service dog. Moreover, your landlord may wish for your service dog to be up-to-date on vaccinations and to have an image of your service dog on file. When questioning, “do I have to tell my landlord I have a service dog,” it’s important to be mindful that regardless of whether you do or don’t inform your landlord, you are still liable if your service dog causes any damages to the property during your tenancy.

Not Telling My Landlord I Have a Service Dog

While you’re not legally obligated to inform your landlord about your service dog, not doing so can present certain avoidable issues, as previously alluded to. For instance, if your landlord knows you have a service dog, they can make reasonable accommodations in accordance with your needs. This can not only make tenancy easier for you, but also for your service dog.

Additional outcomes tied to not telling your landlord you have a service dog can vary. If you live in a pet-friendly complex, then you may not have any problems. More likely than not, other tenants will have pets of their own. A situation such as this one increases the likelihood of no one being any the wiser about your animal’s status as a service dog.

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However, if you’re in a complex where pets are disallowed and you have a service dog that you haven’t informed your landlord about, this can be a bit tricker. Of course, landlords are legally mandated to waive “no pets” rules in cases of service animals; however, their lack of knowledge about your service dog’s status as a service animal can create the appearance of you violating your agreement as a tenant, when you actually aren’t. Moreover, if other tenants in your complex see your service dog and don’t know it’s a service dog, this can also cause unnecessary issues.

Ultimately, whether or not to inform your landlord about your service dog is a choice you have to make. For reasons already stated, though, making sure that you and your landlord are on the same page generally reaps a better situation and experience for all parties involved — yourself, your service dog, and your landlord.

Do I Have to Tell My Landlord I Have a Service Dog: Why Doesn’t Everyone Do This?

Unfortunately, there are all sorts of reasons and circumstances which may discourage someone from disclosing the presence of a service dog to their landlord. In some cases, a tenant may not know their rights as the owner of a service dog.

Therefore, there could be certain concerns about having to pay pet fees or being denied renting opportunities as a result of owning a service animal. Thankfully, the federal Fair Housing Act prevents these types of situations from happening, thus protecting the rights of disabled individuals who need to rent a home.

In the best of worlds, all landlords would always do the right thing by their tenant; sadly, this isn’t the case. As such, a service dog owner who suffered a negative experience from a previous landlord may feel less inclined to be forthcoming about their service dog the next go-around. While this situation is extremely sympathetic, to say the least, declining to tell your landlord that you have a service dog can recreate other quagmires, even though you are not legally required to disclose.

Do I Have to Tell My Landlord I Have a Service Dog? What if I Feel Uncomfortable Doing This?

As previously stated, there is no law mandating you to tell your landlord that you have a service dog. However, if you truly feel uncomfortable with sharing this information with your landlord, it might be a good idea to consider whether or not they’re the best person to be renting from.

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It’s unlikely that you and your landlord will become the best of friends; however, the two of you should ideally be cordial and respectful to one another. Telling your landlord about your service dog not only prevents confusion and issues later down the line, but it also lets your landlord do their job and make the necessary accommodations for you.

When deciding where to live and while exploring renting options, you always want to make sure that you’re as comfortable, informed, and aware as humanly possible. If you don’t feel comfortable renting from one landlord or being fully transparent with them, there are many other options and landlords to consider renting from.

If you’re still not comfortable letting your landlord know about your service dog, narrowing your renting choices to pet-friendly complexes is also an option to consider. This way, you’re likelier to blend in with other tenants who live with animals and won’t stand out as the only person with a service dog or animal.

At the end of the day, each person has to determine whether or not they wish to tell their landlord they have a service dog. This is a choice that only you can make; no one else can decide for you. However, regardless of which option you choose, it’s important to know what your options are and how your rights are protected by law.

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