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Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets in Fort Worth, TX

Leslie Kazen - Tuesday, May 7, 2024
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A pet is a wonderful addition to the family, but when you're a renter, service animals, emotional support animals, and pets are categorized differently. According to recent statistics, there are about 500,000 service dogs in the United States alone.

If you're a landlord in Fort Worth, TX, what are the differences between these types of animals, and how do you handle them in your property?

Let's take a closer look at the various service and emotional support animal laws to help you navigate this challenging topic.

Pets and Renting

Most of us know what a pet is: these furry friends are members of the family made to bring us joy. Unfortunately, having a traditional pet isn't always a welcome sight for some owners of rental properties.

In a nutshell, pets are simply animals that someone voluntarily chose to bring into their home. If you're concerned about issues like noise or animal-caused property damage, you may choose not to allow pets on your property.

If you're willing to allow pets, consider asking for a pet deposit upfront or charging a monthly pet fee. This can cover extra costs the pet or pets may incur once your tenant moves out. Opting to allow pets is completely up to you, but there's a distinction between pets, service animals, and emotional support animals, which we'll cover below.

Emotional Support Animals (ESA)

While the terms emotional support animal and service animal are often used similarly, they mean two different things. Emotional support animals (ESA) are professionally trained to provide emotional support and comfort to their owners, but they're not trained to perform specific tasks other than that.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) states that an emotional support animal helps to alleviate one or more symptoms of the owner's disability. In many cases, these animals can help with conditions like depression or anxiety.

It's important to note that an ESA has not undergone special training to perform specific tasks for people with disabilities. For example, a seeing eye dog is a service animal, not an emotional support animal since it has been trained to help a blind person accomplish various tasks.

Service Animals

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals are specifically trained to perform tasks for those with disabilities. ADA regulations have separate provisions about certain animals, like miniature horses trained to help people with disabilities.

Most people have dogs as service animals, but the type of animal may vary. So, what are the laws regarding service animals and renters in Texas?

The Texas Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing, so fees or deposits for service animals may not be charged to renters. However, the tenant is still liable for any damages the service animal causes.

Follow the Law for Happy Tenants

Knowing the difference between pets, emotional support animals, and service animals is important. As long as you follow current laws, your tenants should have no issues abiding by the rules.

1st Choice Property Management has been serving Fort Worth for 30 years, so contact us today to find out more!