The Texas Association of Realtors® has created a form to guide rental property owners on assistance animals, titled General Information for Landlord Regarding Assistance Animals. You can download and view the form here.
According to the form, an Assistance Animal 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. An assistance animal is not considered a pet. Under the Fair Housing Act, an assistance animal does not need to be trained or certified, and can be any type of animal.”
The law allows us to request additional information from an applicant to verify that the animal is in fact an assistance animal. There are certain conditions that must be met and reliable documentation of disability is necessary. Once it has been established that the animal is an assistance animal, we are not allowed to charge pet fees, and breed and size restrictions also do not apply, but the tenant is still responsible for any damage that the animal causes.
Since it’s important to not run afoul of the law—some steep judgments have been paid by landlords who did!—clients of SmartEgg can rest assured knowing that we are handling this for you.
In fact, we partnered with PetScreening.com, a wonderful company that does the work of collecting all the pertinent information about an applicant’s animals. We require this of all applicants, whether their animals are assistance animals or regular pets. We’re provided with a thorough report, which includes a risk rating (1–5 “paws”) and informs us if the animal is a legitimate assistance animal. This new service is great for us as it removes any guesswork and uncertainty about a pet. Best of all, there’s no charge to our landlords!