If A Tenant Dies, Does His Emotional Support Dog Become A Pet?

Ask Landlord Hank If A Tenant Dies, Does His Emotional Support Dog Become A Pet?

A landlord asks this week about an emotional support dog and a tenant who has passed away, so that is the question for Ask Landlord Hank. Remember Hank is not an attorney and he is not offering legal advice.

Dear Landlord Hank:

A couple moved in 18 months ago. The husband had an emotional-support animal.

However, the husband has now died. Does the emotional support dog now become a pet? I don’t rent to people who have dogs. May I require the wife to get rid of the dog? May I now charge a pet fee? May I raise the rent? — Jerald

Hi, Landlord Jerald,

An emotional-support animal is meant to help a person who is disabled. The pet is meant to help the disability that affects a major life function for that person.

If that person is no longer alive, then the emotional support animal is not doing the job for which it was designed, and it becomes a pet.

In my opinion, you could require the wife to sign a pet addendum, and collect a pet deposit.

BUT, is that really the right decision?

Maybe from a strictly business sense, yes. But ask yourself these questions:

  • First, have these tenants been good tenants?
  • Has the emotional support dog been a problem, or caused any damage?
  • Would anything really change if you allow this grieving wife to stay until the end of her lease, with no changes?

I normally don’t allow pets in my properties either, but in this case, if they’ve been good tenants and there is no damage to the property from the pet, I’d let her stay through the end of current lease, but no longer.

I’d have a conversation with her though, so she knows you are making an accommodation for her, but only for this one lease.

Sincerely,

Hank Rossi

Ask Landlord Hank: If A Tenant Dies, Does His Emotional Support Dog Become A Pet?
Landlord Hank says, “If that person is no longer alive, then the emotional support animal is not doing the job for which it was designed, and it becomes a pet.”

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Hank Rossi
I started in real estate as a child watching my father take care of our family rentals- maintenance, tenant relations, etc , in small town Ohio. As I grew, I was occasionally Dad’s assistant. In the mid-90s I decided to get into the rental business on my own, as a sideline. In 2001, I retired from my profession and only managed my own investments, for the next 10 years. Six years ago, my sister, working as a rental agent/property manager in Sarasota, Florida convinced me to try the Florida lifestyle. I gave it a try and never looked back. A few years ago we started our own real estate brokerage. We focus on property management and leasing. I continue to manage my real estate portfolio here in Florida and Atlanta.