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Do You Have to Allow Support Animals in Your California Rental Property?

Do You Have to Allow Support Animals in Your California Rental Property?

Did you know that there are currently around half a million service dogs working in the US?

Most California landlords would prefer a pet-free home. However, when it comes to supporting animals, the issue can become a little more complicated. What are your rights as a landlord? Do you have to allow support animals on your property?

In this article, we'll take a look at the laws surrounding assistance animals and rented accommodation - helping you to make an informed decision when it counts.

Read on to learn more.

Emotional Support Animals Vs Service Animals

Before we go into the legal specifics, it's worth pointing out that emotional support animals (ESAs) are different to service animals. While service animals receive extensive training, there are official training requirements or standards for ESAs. In fact, they do not even require a registration document.

In short, anybody can claim that their pet is an ESA. This causes a headache for landlords, who fear falling afoul of fair housing and disability laws. Under the Fair Housing and Assistance Animals Act, landlords must allow people with genuine service animals to stay in California rental properties.

To further complicate matters, a recent trend has emerged in which people are attempting to pass off emotional assistance animals as trained service dogs. A number of businesses have sprung up, claiming to provide 'official' service animal licensing for a price.

These documents may then be used to fraudulently circumnavigate the 'no-pets' clause of a rental agreement.

ESA Law AB 468

The issue of people fraudulently claiming service animal status for their ESAs became so prevalent that on September 16, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law that became effective on January 1, 2022.

ESA Law AB 368 works to make clear definitions between ESAs and service dogs. More stringent licensing is now required, and those who falsely represent an ESA as a service dog are subject to steep fines.

For California landlords, this change in the law offered some much-needed clarity on the issue of ESAs vs service dogs.

Do You Have to Allow Support Animals In Your Property?

To be clear: California landlords don't have to let people with ESAs stay in their property.

They are only legally required to make exceptions for genuine, registered service animals. This includes seeing-eye dogs, medical support dogs, and psychiatric support animals.

ESA Laws in California Explained

It's your right as a landlord to protect your property. You shouldn't have any trouble with a properly trained service animal. However, emotional support animals can be just as unpredictable as pets, and you'll have no guarantee against damages.

When you choose our property management services, you can be sure that only people with genuine service animals get a chance to become your tenants. Here at Blue Line, we've got the expertise and knowledge to find renters you can rely on.

If you have any questions or inquiries, be sure to contact us today and we'll be happy to help.