Emotional support pitbull incident

Have had a problem tenant that’s played hardball with us from day 1. Of course was able to come up with the emotional support paperwork for his pitbull a couple years ago. Dog got loose tonight and knocked a young kid over. Thankfully nobody bit or hurt, but he knows he’s somewhat untouchable from a tenant/landlord law perspective. Debating calling police and having report written up. He knows that this county can potentially have her put down and is already making “retaliatory” claims with us having done nothing yet. Any suggestions here?

Hello MHP. I’d recommend making the call and having the incident documented. In the litigious world we live in, if it’s not documented it didn’t happen. Having a paper trail involving this tenant and “support” animal will probably be needed to finally get them removed. You could then give the report to your insurance company and see where they’d like to take it. Good luck!

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If you are in doubt as to what to do why bother. Either you want the dog and tenant gone or you don’t. If you want it gone you would be doing everything possible including reporting this incident to the police. It’s been a couple of years and the dog is still there. My guess is you no longer have the stamina to fight and have given up otherwise you would have found a way to get rid of the tennat long ago.
Do your state regulations not allow you to none renew leases. You now have grounds to do so.

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You apparently fail to realize that this is a highly touchy subject from a legal perspective. Either that or you failed to absorb the part about the dog being an emotional support animal. Otherwise just a generally abrasive reply with little value.

Would love to hear from anyone that is actually informed on the topic and brings critical thinking to the more sensitive legal areas of the business.

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I work in the mental health field, and understand the true value of, (and sometimes misuse) of “emotional support animals. “ I for one appreciate your empathy and legal awareness of this matter. Your hands are tied in a disability rights issue, and your tenant knows it.

I guess the questions are 1. How often does the dog get loose? 2. Has this happened before? 3. Can you issue a warning? I would make a report and document. 4. Do you have elderly people living in your park? Because knocking an elderly person down can easily result in fractured bones with the simplest of falls. 5. Do you have an attorney who is familiar with disability rights knowledge you can ask?

If this is a one time issue, then document and let it go. However, I would still try to find an attorney with the knowledge and experience.

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Requiring a pit bull, or any specific breed or animal, as a “emotional support animal” is a joke. In light of the fact that a pit bull was not welcome in the park from day one the dog getting loose once is one time too many. Zero empathy for emotional support.
Waiting for a second or third incident with the hope no one is injured is irresponsible and reckless on the part of a park owner. You do not wait till a incident results in a injury you react immediately to insure it never happens again. You do not target the dog you target the tenant. The dog may be protected however the irresponsible behaviour of the tenant is not. He can keep his dog, not his home.
Regardless of my costs this tenant would be gone.

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mph… I have considerable knowledge on “emotional support animals” and the laws. I am also fully aware of my legal rights. Once a tenant plays the “emotion” card smart landlords will drop the issue immediately and shift gears to other issues to get rid of the tenant without dwelling on the animal. As soon as they play the “emotion” card in violation of community rules they go on the must evict list. Tenants that want emotional support animals need to be respectful of rules and choose a acceptable animal or choose to live where they are welcome. There are over 300 registered breeds of dogs, mutts unlimited. Pit Bull as a emotional support animal is a obvious/blatant scam. Scammers are not welcome in my community.

My original comment I believe was on point. After two years if a landlord has not found other reasons/ways to evict or non renew they have obviously given up.
Although legally protected we all know that the emotion card is a scam particularly in a case involving a animal not allowed in the park. The tenant was a problem from day one, should never have been accepted, and would have/should have been targeted to evict.
My position in managing a rental property will always be……s**t or get off the pot. Action not excuses.

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In which state is this happening? For legal context.

That aside, might be worth “re-validating” all of the pets in the park, including any tenant’s emotional support letters to confirm they are from a legitimate source that actually assessed those tenant’s mental health.

You may also want to investigate your legal ability to require that this specific tenants get their own liability policy that has your Park as an additional insured… I expect your insurance company will tell you that if this dog bites someone you’re not covered. Understand what your options are in the event this tenant refuses or will not get an insurance policy that covers you, and see if your insurance will cover the legal costs associated with complying to their guidelines.

Some companies are drawing the lines on emotional support animals and taking the risk, regardless. Here is an example. https://www.foxnews.com/travel/delta-flight-limit-emotional-support-animals

Not an easy topic. Keep us posted how it goes.

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How many lots do you operate? Your methodology and approach seems reckless and imprudent for anyone with or trying to scale to thousands of lots.

@mhp as per your question:

  • “Emotional support pitbull incident”
  • "Dog got loose tonight and knocked a young kid over. "
  • “Thankfully nobody bit or hurt, but he knows he’s somewhat untouchable from a tanant/landlord law perspective.”

Please note that I am NOT an Attorney. I would advise immediately seeking the counsel of a Legal Attorney in your State specifically trained in Landlord/Tenant issues & Emotional Support Animals.

I am just another MHP Owner.

As per “U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) FHEO Notice: FHEO-2013-01 Issued: April 25, 2013” there are 2 types of animals:

  1. Service Animals
  2. Assistance Animals (ie Emotional Support Animals)

Service Animals:
As per “U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) FHEO Notice: FHEO-2013-01 Issued: April 25, 2013”:
“Section Il: The ADA Definition of ‘Service Animal’

  • “…DOJ’s revised ADA regulations define ‘service animal’ narrowly as any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. The revised regulations specify that ‘the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.’ "
  • "Thus, trained dogs are the only species of animal that may qualify as service animals under the ADA (there is a separate provision regarding trained miniature horses9), and emotional support animals are expressly precluded from qualifying as service animals under the ADA.”

Assistance Animals - (ie Emotional Support Animals):
As per “U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) FHEO Notice: FHEO-2013-01 Issued: April 25, 2013”:
“Section I: Reasonable Accommodations for Assistance Animals under the FHAct and Section
504"

  • "An assistance animal is not a pet. It is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs
    tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates
    one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. "
  • "The request may also be denied if:
    (1) the specific assistance animal in question poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation, or
    (2) the specific assistance animal in question would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation. "
  • “Breed, size, and weight limitations may not be applied to an assistance animal.”
  • “A determination that an assistance animal poses a direct threat of harm to others or would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others must be based on an individualized assessment that relies on objective evidence about the specific animal’s actual conduct — not on mere speculation or fear about the types of harm or damage an animal may cause and not on evidence about harm or damage that other animals have caused.”

Based on the HUD FHEO Notice: FHEO-2013-01 Issued: April 25, 2013 & your specific incident:

  • ‘The specific animal’s actual conduct’ has provided ‘objective evidence’ that the ‘assistance animal poses a direct threat of harm to others or would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others.’

Based on the specific animal’s actual conduct of “Dog got loose…and knocked a young kid over…”:

  1. Attorney: Immediately speak to a Landlord/Tenant Attorney in your state concerning this issue
  2. Determine Course Of Action: With the legal counsel of your Landlord/Tenant Attorney determine if this Tenant should leave based on:
    a) Violating the ‘Assistance Animal’ Section: Specific Animal’s Actual Conduct poses a direct threat of harm to others
    b) Month-To-Month Lease: Give 30 Day Written Notice that the Month-To-Month Lease has ended (with NO reason why)

We wish you the very best!

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Assuming you have liability insurance you need to call your insurance company and get them involved. They have vested interest in you not getting sued.

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Thanks to those of you that offered constructive, well-thought out advice.

You are required to make “reasonable accommodations.”. Can you stand in front of a jury and say it is unreasonable to allow the dog to stay?

Plus 1 for @Kristin answer.

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I don’t know which state you are in, but here in N.C. the law says we don’t HAVE to accept dogs of any kind. The owner has the right to make his/her own rules. Our insurance company provided us with a list of all the aggressive-type breeds. People have tried to pull that with us and lost. The law also says that if a landlord knows a tenant has one and it hurts someone, the landlord is responsible.

One couple signed their lease that stated NO PETS (pets have to be approved if they want one after moving in), and they got a German Shepherd. I noticed it outside and inquired. They said it was a support dog for their child because the child has to be on oxygen or something. I told them it wasn’t allowed and had to go, and I immediately alerted the owner. They went over my head and complained to the owner. He told them I was right and that it had to go or they’d get evicted. They were pretty mad, but did get rid of it.

Whenever there is a sticky situation, the owner waits until their lease is soon to be up and lets them know that we won’t be renewing it and they have so many days to move out.

Please note that “U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) FHEO Notice: FHEO-2013-01 Issued: April 25, 2013”is:

  • “This notice explains certain obligations of housing providers under the Fair Housing Act (FHAct), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with respect to animals that provide assistance to individuals with disabilities.”

Housing providers must follow these Federal Laws in respect to:

  1. Service Animals
  2. Assistance Animals (ie Emotional Support Animals)

Assistance Animals - (ie Emotional Support Animals):
As per “U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) FHEO Notice: FHEO-2013-01 Issued: April 25, 2013”:
“Section I: Reasonable Accommodations for Assistance Animals under the FHAct and Section
504"

  • "Breed, size, and weight limitations may not be applied to an assistance animal. "
  • "A determination that an assistance animal poses a direct threat of harm to others or would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others must be based on an individualized assessment that relies on objective evidence about the specific animal’s actual conduct — not on mere speculation or fear about the types of harm or damage an animal may cause and not on evidence about harm or damage that other animals have caused. "
  • “Conditions and restrictions that housing providers apply to pets may not be applied to assistance animals. For example, while housing providers may require applicants or residents to pay a pet deposit, they may not require applicants and residents to pay a deposit for an assistance animal.”

We wish you the very best!

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Check with an attorney. Emotional Support animals do not have the same legal protection as Service Animals.

** VERY IMPORTANT **

Every “Housing provider” must follow the Federal Laws in respect to both:

  1. Service Animals
  2. Assistance Animals (ie Emotional Support Animals)

IF you are a “Housing provider”, please read the below HUD Document (at the very least) in reference to both Service Animals & Assistance Animals (ie Emotional Support Animals):

Yes, Service Animals & Assistance Animals do have different Laws/Rules.

However, both Service Animals & Assistance Animals have Federal Laws (which should be understood & followed).

We wish you the very best!

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MHP, there is a huge difference between emotional support animals and service animals. An “emotional support” animal does not have the same rigorous training that service animals do. Kristen did a great job citing the law and it’s clear you should document the incident with police and that would give you the legal protection to evict the tenant. It’s not retaliatory if you have a legitimate, documented, reason.

It’s also worth mentioning, be careful with “emotional support” animals. There are tons of ways and websites out there to fake the paperwork and some tenants think they’re smarter than they really are. Always validate the paperwork by calling and verifying the animal.

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Why don’t you just raise the rent until they leave? Don’t make it about the dog find another way to get them out

Because you would have to raise everyone’s rent to not be discriminatory.

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