Monthly pet fees


#1

I asked this question 4 years ago, and I’m curious to ask it again. Do other park owners charge pet fees?

My concern is it would encourage residents to cheat the system, if they get a pet (particularly an indoor cat) I have a hard time believing most residents would voluntarily report it the manager and start incurring a fee.


#2

We charge a one-time pet fee for a rental, but it is not a monthly fee. If it’s not a rental, we do not charge a fee (why would we?)


#3

For me it becomes a question of how much you can charge. If you can charge $25 or more and actually generate revenue (and discourage pets) it’s probably worth it. In states like MN, however, that allow for a $4 charge, it’s not worth anyone’s time.


#4

We have started charging pet fees and we have been inundated with emotional support animal doctors notes from residents. Website articles such as the one below are making it easier for residents to claim that their pet is an emotional support animal. https://www.servicedogcertifications.org/legitimate-emotional-support-animal-doctors-note/
Is this legal or even legitimate? If not, what can I do to show that these pets are not really emotional support animals?


#5

This area is a minefield for those who are not well schooled in what they can say and can’t say and how they need to deal with such requests. As many people here know, our company has helped many clients and customers deal with the whole area of Fair Housing, the Americans with Disability Act, and SACRA. We have put on a number of full-day classroom training events for a number of state associations and are working closely with Rick Robinson of MHI to help community owners deal with this explosive issue.

Our clients and customers use forms rather than conversation to deal with this that we had a well-known law firm create. Using this process cuts down on dangerous conversations and documents the whole process. The help you need is not coming from Google, Google & Google. With that warning here is an answer to your question.

Federal law is very specific regarding Service Animals (only dogs and miniature horses) in a residential setting. The certificates you referenced are worthless in complying with federal law and have no authority over you. Service Animals to be validated need a written letter of opinion from a qualified medical professional that has actually examined the individual claiming a disability and a written letter from a qualified trainer certifying the animal has been trained to complete the needed service by that trainer and further the animal has been trained to not be a danger to others and further yet that the animal is housebroken.

Emotional Support animals are not limited to dogs or miniature horses, but the need can only be validated with a written letter of opinion from a qualified mental health professional who has actually examined the individual and asserts that a particular animal is in fact necessary for the emotional stability of the individual requesting an accommodation.

There are other things a community owner may require of people requesting an accommodation before approving the accommodation.

It is a criminal offense in 18 states to represent either a need or that an animal meets the criteria, if in fact it is a deception to get around normal rules of residency. A bill is being introduced in the Illinois House soon that will make the issuance of fraudulent certificates or misrepresentation of need or animal qualification a Class Four Felony. It is expected to pass both houses and that the Governor will sign it and to go into effect in July of 2018. The Bill is being pushed by the Illinois Manufactured Housing Association and has the backing of both apartment associations.

All of that said, be very careful of what you do, or don’t do, without the proper knowledge and system in place first. The prosecutions and the fines have been horrific for even those trying to be careful.

BTW: The link you supplied went to a fraudulent provider of documents so I would not waste brain space on what they put on the internet.


#6

Our lawyers have told us that we cannot ask for documentation for service animals. The opposite is true for emotional support animals. We only accept legitimate ESA letters from real licensed therapists.


#7

Brandy - You need better attorneys. It is written into federal law. There is, as I have said countless times before, a difference between black letter law attorneys and regulatory attorneys. That difference can get you in real trouble.

Add On Edit: This has now come up three times from three different organizations we work with since my last post. So, you, and by extension your attorneys, apparently have the same bad information.

RCG employees have tracked a possibility for this misinformation to a so-called “not for profit” group who, in addition to giving incorrect suggestions in the form of information, also supports several “consumer” groups who make their living suing landlords and condo associations. We are not sure if they were the original source or if there were many sources, but we know they have done continuing education for attorneys in the area of Fair Housing and the Americans With Disabilities Act. This whole thing apparently started about four years ago, and has gone pretty much unchallenged.

What I can tell you is that RCG tracks every Fair Housing, ADA, and SACRA lawsuit in America, and no one has been successfully sued for requiring documentation, nor have we been able to find any final regulatory action at any local, state, or federal level. Further, RCG has queried 32 state regulators and while they may not like a proper requirement of documentation, they have all admitted it is legal.

I would further point out that the draft legislation in Illinois regarding fraudulent claims of need and/or training references the same federal laws I am referring to in this post.


#8

new information added.


#9

Can you provide any documentation on the legality of requesting documentation for a service animal? We have talked to multiple attorneys and they all agree that asking for documentation is not required for service animals.


#10

Brandy: First there is nothing requiring you, as the landlord, to require documentation other than perhaps your insurance company. (Kurt Kelly would be the expert on that.)

Second, we can and do provide any documentation for clients and customers and, if necessary their attorneys. Again, I cannot emphasize enough using regulatory attorneys when it comes to regulatory issues.