Have You Ever Had To Evict A Dog?

have you ever evicted a dog and do landlords know the facts about emotional support animals and service animals
Pictured, our dog Lolo.  We rescued this sweet Husky Terrier mix.  When my daughter needed her most, she was there.  She also tried to pick a fight with every dog in the neighborhood and thus spent most of her pampered life in the backyard.

Have you ever had to evict a dog brings to mind the acts that landlords need to be aware of when accommodating emotional support and service animals.

By Lance Anderson

Insurance companies and dogs generally don’t go together well.   Dogs bite people.  It’s the easiest $40,000 someone will ever get. That’s correct, the average dog-bite settlement is $40,000.  We lose sleep over tenants’ dogs biting people and the ensuing legal papers that are sure to follow.

When I was a young landlord, after serving all the legal RHA Utah | Rental Association of Utah Home notices, I asked Animal Control to meet me and ensure a conflict-free eviction of three pit bulls. When I arrived, animal control was there, but the pit bulls were gone. Conflict adverted and problem solved.

Have you ever had to evict a dog?

On another occasion, I stopped by a rental home to collect rent and was greeted by a German shepherd. When I asked the tenant about the new dog, they informed me that their daughter’s apartment didn’t allow dogs. I just stood there for a minute … if the apartment building does not allow a German shepherd, what makes you think I would want one on my property?  I went back to my office for the correct RHA form, returned and posted it, and the dog found a new home.

Times have changed and landlords must be aware of and follow the Utah Fair Housing Act & the Federal Fair Housing Act, which encourage and require landlords to accommodate people who have disabilities.  An Emotional Support Animal – ESA – or Service Animal may help with those disabilities.

Here are a few facts for landlords to be aware of when accommodating Emotional Support and Service Animals:

  • There must be a demonstrable relationship between the individual’s disability and the assistance the animal provides.
  • A landlord is entitled to verify the existence of the individual’s disability as well as the need for an assistance animal as an accommodation for that disability.
  • An individual proposing an assistance animal as an accommodation for a disability may be required to provide documentation from a psychiatrist, physician or other qualified healthcare professional.
  • It appears to be quite easy to obtain an ESA letter or documentation by filling out a few forms online.
  • ESAs are not subject to a landlord’s size or breed restrictions.
  • A landlord cannot charge additional rent or deposit for an ESA or Service Animal.
  • The tenant is responsible for any damage caused by the ESA or Service Animal.
  • A landlord can (and should) ask for proof of insurance for your service animal.  Are You Requiring Renters Insurance? | Anderson Insurance Group
  • If the ESA is an aggressive dog breed, make sure the renter’s insurance does not exclude coverage for aggressive breeds or an animal liability sub-limit.

The rights of renters with ESAs are clear, and landlords must and should accommodate them as long as it is reasonable.

Many landlords’ policies do not cover liability from a dog bite or exclude certain breeds. The best way a landlord can protect themselves is to 1) require renters’ insurance.  And, 2) make sure their landlord’s insurance includes Personal Injury coverage. Personal Injury can cover such things as discrimination and wrongful eviction and is an added endorsement every landlord’s policy should include.

For the most comprehensive landlord insurance coverage, call Andres Dominguez or Lance Anderson at Anderson Insurance Group today.

About the author:

Lance Anderson is the owner and CEO of Anderson Insurance Group and has been an insurance agent for more than 25 years. He attended BYU and later graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interpersonal Communications. He and his wife and family live in Draper, Utah.

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