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Property Management: Can a Chicken be a Service Animal?

Chicken is a Service Animal

Last month I attended the Texas Association REALTORS 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, 2013.

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 the same.

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, Lets define Service Animal, Comfort Animal and Federal Law Fair Housing Act dealing with those:
What is a Service Animal?

Service animals are animals that have been trained to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities.

Disability 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 "therapy 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 person's disability.

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 doesnt 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 policy.

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 Animals:

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.

The bottom line is be aware of this kind of situations, know the federal, your state and local laws, city ordinances, and dont 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, Doctors note, etc) and the Judge. Just be aware of this kind of problems.

Bahman Davani from Texas Five Star Realty Serving City of Plano Texas With the pride of living over 33 years in Plano, I am proud to serve as your Professional Real Estate Consultant and guide you through the selling, buying and leasing process, help you locate a suitable site for your business, provide neighborhood demographics and schools information, and more information.

Mobile: 214-457-7055
Fax: 972-596-7984
email: Bahman@TexasFiveStarRealty.com

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Texas Five Star Realty
P.O. Box 261665
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, TX 75026 US
Phone: 214-457-7055
Website: www.texasfivestarrealty.com/
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