Property Management: Can a Chicken be a Service
Last month I attended the Texas Association
in Dallas Texas and attended several seminars and took many
courses on Property Managements. There were a lot of new rules,
issues affecting Property Management starting September 1st,
Among all these news and information, there
were law suit statistics for each types of real estate
transactions and as usual and as it was expected, Property
Managements business had a most number of law suits. One of the
laws suits deals with service animals that I thought is very
interesting and wanted to share with you:
There is currently a case an appeal court,
in state of Texas, for a case that the tenant keeps a chicken
with him and claiming it as service animal. His reasoning is
that the chicken gives him comfort and he needs to have it with
him for emotional purposes. He has a note from a Doctor stating
After about two years going back and forth
to the court and spending (perhaps) hundreds of thousands
dollars so far, it seems the landlord is going to give up and
the tenant wins.
It seems the winning factor is the
note/letter from the Doctor stating the chicken is beneficial to
his patient and he must have it. If this one passes in favor of
the tenant, tomorrow somebody comes with a letter from another
Doctor that he needs snake, etc… in the property!
Just for Your Information, Let’s define
Service Animal, Comfort Animal and Federal Law Fair Housing Act
dealing with those:
What is a
are animals that have been trained to perform tasks that assist
people with disabilities.
is the consequence of an impairment that may be physical,
cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional,
developmental, or some combination of these.
Dogs are the most common service animals, although other animals
such as monkeys, birds and horses have been documented.
What are Comfort Animals,
"therapy animals" and "Emotional Supporting Animals (ESA)"?
Comfort animals, also
sometimes referred as
animals" and "Emotional Supporting Animals", are
pets that owners keep with them for emotional reasons. (For
example, the owner may feel calmer when he or she is near the
pet.) Unlike a service animal, a comfort animal is not trained
to perform specific, measurable tasks directly related to the
What happens if the Home Insurance does not accept a
particular animal in the house?
Per HUD, this is the Federal Law, that you
(landlord) must accept that service animal in the house. If your
home insurance doesn’t allow that, you (landlord) must look for
another insurance company that allows that.
Can Landlord Refuse to Lease Property to
Those Who Own Certain of Animal?
A landlord may refuse to
lease properties to those who own animals (unless the tenant
qualifies to have a service animal under the Fair Housing Act),
or who own certain types of animals (for example, pit bulls).
The landlord must be careful to consistently enforce such a
Rules on Service Animals Security Deposits:
Remember, Service Animals are not
considered PETS and the owner should not fill the pet
application nor pay pet security deposit. Service animals could
be comforting animals too! The tenant just needs a letter from a
Doctor indicating that animal is comforting his/her patient. It
could be chicken too, as shown in this article.
Important Reminder to Property Management employees Regarding
While a chicken can not be a service animal it can be a therapy
animal (Comforting Animal, Emotional Animal) and as such has the
same requirements as long as a certified practitioner has
indicated that this animal provides some emotional comfort and
mental support. It is very important that property management
employees understand that service animals are most common but
there are other animal classifications that can get you into a
situation if you do not understand the rules.
bottom line is be aware of this kind of situations, know the
federal, your state and local laws, city ordinances, and don’t
forget the HOA (Home Owner Association) rules and restrictions
on having pets, service animals, companion animals, Emotional
Supporting Animals; if you are in leasing or property management
business. It seems the size, weight, type and how vicious and
dangerous the animal could be is irrelevant. It all comes down
to the attorneys, expert witnesses (e.g., Doctor, Doctor’s note,
etc) and the Judge. Just be aware of this kind of problems.