The difference between an animal assistant and a pet is an increasing concern for landlords in Ohio and the rest of the country. It was a big part of the discussion of fair-housing law at a conference of hundreds of landlords in Akron this past weekend.
All service dogs – such as seeing-eye dogs -- are animal assistants. But under fair-housing law, not all animal assistants are service dogs. They can include everything from hamsters to Shetland ponies, and serve a number of needs, including emotional support.
David Oppenheimer of the Ohio attorney general’s office, told the landlords they can ask for some validation of why a tenant needs an animal, but not much more.
“They have to be aware that they can’t require insurance, higher rent as the one gentleman said to get around things. You have to be aware that you can’t have deposits.”
Oppenheimer says landlords cannot evict someone who already lives in a no-pets property and then gets a support animal. He says the justification for the animal can come from a variety of professionals, including a doctor, counselor or social worker.
Click here for more on Ohio landlord-tenant rules.