Orlando Real Estate, Orlando Buyers Agent, Orlando Homes, Orlando Buyers Broker: Renting to a Service Dog...

Renting to a Service Dog...


Last month I got a call on my  rental home.  The caller asked what my pet policy was because she had a dog.  I said "It depends..."  then she added that her roommate had a "service dog".  I said "That would be a "no"...

Her voice got louder and she said "are you saying that you will not rent to my roommates service dog?"  I said "No, I am saying I will not rent to YOUR dog."

I instantly knew that I had to choose my words carefully.

Let me clarify that I am not against renting to pets...I believe however that the pet has to suit the property...particularly if there is no fenced yard. In any case, I really don't want two dogs.  I also don't want a breed of dog that my home owners insurance will not cover.  I just don't need the liability.


None the less, this was the first time in 30 years that a potential tenant mentioned a service dog.  I was intrigued to learn more.  Thats where things got interesting...

The first thing that I was able to find were internet companies that could equip you with whatever you needed. It only takes a credit card to look legitimate.  They will sell you the service dog jacket, harness, dog ID card and even a Service Dog "certification". All this fake stuff for $149 which I found to be a ripoff price.

I could buy this for all my dogs and even my cat, even though I am not disabled. Anyone can outfit their designer dog so that they can get a free pass to eat lunch at the finest resturants.  A sham that many people pull simply because the rules for service dogs are not clearly defined.


There is no organized body of government at the state or federal level that exists to monitor, train, license or authorize a service animal.


Here are the different types of Service Animals:


Therapy dog:  Is trained to provide comfort and affection to people in hospitals, retirement homes, schools and disaster areas.


Service Animal: If your doctor determines that you are disabled (ADA American with Disability Act) and a service animal could aid you in leading a more normal life, you may qualify to have a service animal. A trained service animal typically takes about 2 years and 2,000 hours to train, however your pet may qualify as a service animal even without training.


Emtional Support Animal: Provides therapeutic benefit to its owner through affection and companionship.


Psychiatric Service Animal: is a service dog trained to help the handler with a psychiatric disability like a mental illness or PSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)



Here are some quick facts that landlords and real estate agents need to know:


  • The ADA (American with Disabilities) imposes no requirement to certify, register or train a service animal.  In order to qualify you must fit the description of being legally disabled and the animal must aid you in performing major life activity.


  • The service animal can move about just like a human.  They can go into hospitals, buildings, churches, work facilities, resturants and anywhere the handler needs to go.  They can travel on buses, trains and airlines for free. The service animal does not need to be only a dog, they can be any kind of animal that fits the need.


  • No one can turn down a service animal.  Pet rental policies and deposits do not apply on any rental property, any landlord, or even condominiums  You cannot restrict the size, weight, or breed. You cannot limit the type of animal either.



There are only two questions that you may ask:


1. Is the service animal required because of a disability?

2. What task has the animal been trained to do?



  • About the disability
  • Require medical documentation
  • Require special ID
  • Ask for training documentation
  • Ask the animal to perform


 I believe that a service animal is important to the quality of life for many people.  It is a wonderful thing and a great cause...so sure, I am OK with renting to a service dog.

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Representing ONLY the best interest of the Home Buyer...never the seller.

 Eve Alexander Orlando Buyers Agent


Comment balloon 19 commentsEve Alexander • September 24 2014 10:05AM


Very interesting.

Dealt with many lease transactions involving pets, but never a service animal so far.

Posted by Pete Xavier, Outstanding Agent Referrals-Nationwide (Investments to Luxury) almost 5 years ago

This is a GREAT article Eve.  I wish I had known about the two questions about a month ago when a lady dragged her dog around with us, and claimed it was a service dog.  I doubt it was.

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) almost 5 years ago

Easy to get them in once you educate them of the laws. Still won't change the stares and scowls of neighbors who assume they've been given special privileges and are made to feel ostersized. Still important to make the right fit of animal to type of housing, service dog or no. I've met some very legitimate and impressive service dogs and I've met a lot of entitled adults walking the gray line to be chic and allowed to do things many others can't.

Posted by jo almost 5 years ago

Good evening Eve .. great post and you did your homework.  I have never had to deal with this issue but good to know.  Thank you!

Posted by Judith Parker, CRS, GRI, CMRS, Charlotte, NC (ProStead Realty) almost 5 years ago

Interesting - here in Massachusetts I found these two questions permitted to be asked:

  How can I tell if an animal is really a service animal and not just a pet?

A:        Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you are allowed to ask (1) if it is a service animal required because of a disability, or (2) what tasks the animal performs.  You cannot ask for documentation or certification that it is a service animal.

Posted by MaryBeth Mills Muldowney, Massachusetts Broker Owner (TradeWinds Realty Group LLC) almost 5 years ago

Mike & Eve Alexander so glad I don't do rentals, and we have had some legal problems in Denver with this exact scenario.    

Posted by Joan Cox, Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time (House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373) almost 5 years ago

Eve and Orlando, I'm thinking I need to get Willie the Labradoodle some fake paperes so I can move into any condo I want to.  Of course, he would give himself away the first time he hopped on an elevator and tried to hump some more guy's leg!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Did not know about the availability of "service" animal paraphernalia. Very interesting!


Posted by Susan Haughton, Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results. (Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545) almost 5 years ago

Hmmm.... Mike and Eve. Very enlightening post as I just had a question come up about this.   I am bookmarking for future use. Thank you.

Posted by Barbara Altieri, REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale (Kinard Realty Group - RealtyQuest Team, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate) over 4 years ago

I had one call a while ago demanding that I allow her service dog, but her application never got that far since she also had an eviction on her record.

Posted by Bob Crane, Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671 (Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams Fox Cities) about 4 years ago

This is a very important blog with very important information.  I have sat through more than one class on this.  Re-blogging.  Thank you.

Posted by 1~Judi Barrett, BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK (Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745) almost 4 years ago

Hello Mike and Eve,

Great information for landlords as I am sure many are not aware of service dog rules.

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) almost 4 years ago

This is great information for those who handle rentals.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) almost 4 years ago

Thank you for the great post. I will share this with others. 

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) almost 4 years ago

Saw this reblogged on Roy Kelly's post. Thanks for the information on service dogs and rentals.

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®, Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate (Vision Quest Realty) almost 4 years ago

Still looking to this article for guidance. THANK YOU again for a great post.

Posted by Mary Bergquist about 3 years ago

Coming to you from your recent answer on the question board.

Since you posted this, things have only gotten more complicated.  

Posted by Fred Griffin, on leave of absence from ActiveRain, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker (Fred Griffin Real Estate) about 2 years ago

Hi Mike & Eve Alexander 

Thank you for posting this blog post link to your answer on the Q&A Board. 

I was surprised that we cannot ask for documentation from a doctor or on the animal.

Here's what I found at the Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR)

Service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.


Posted by Doug Dawes, Your Personal Realtor® (Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA) about 2 years ago

Doug Dawes Your comment is correct and a perfect description on what a service dog is intended for.

Until some authority polices this, fakes will continue...just like in real estate.



Posted by Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) about 2 years ago