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What You Need to Know When Renting with a Pets or Service Animal

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Do I Need My Landlord’s Approval for a Pet?

Most likely! Before you acquire a pet, check to see whether you’re currently in one. If your lease prohibits you from having a pet or adding one on, be sure you get permission in writing and keep a copy for future reference.

Landlords have the authority to modify your contract at any time without notice. Always make a note of your landlord’s name and the date on the completed license. If you want to keep your pet, be sure to initial and date the change.

Wait until you move into a pet-friendly rental before trying again with your current landlord.

What are the Consequences of Housing a Pet without Approval?

If it is prohibited in your lease, you may be evicted. Housing a pet without approval is a non-rent violation.

The landlord’s ability to give you notice and whether or not you have the option of getting rid of the pet and avoiding an eviction is determined by several things.

Being evicted makes it difficult to locate housing, impacts your credit, and does not exempt you from paying rent unless the landlord locates someone new to take over or your lease comes to an end.

If My Landlord Lets One Tenant Have a Pet, Don’t They Have to Let Every Tenant Have a Pet?

Actually, no. The landlord is not obligated to grant pet permission to all tenants since they are free to do so.

However, the landlord may choose to do so provided that they do not discriminate against any renters on their membership in a protected class (race, religion, sex, etc.).

A landlord may not do it as a penalty for a tenant’s rights enforcement. A landlord is not prohibited from discriminating against certain animals or breeds, as long as it applies to everyone.

Likewise, some “pets” might be service or companion animals with their own set of regulations.

What if I Require a Service or Emotional Support Animal Due to an Impairment?

It’s a unique scenario in which the landlord’s pet policy does not apply.

A service animal or an emotional support animal should not be treated as a “pet.”

From the landlord’s standpoint, they should be regarded as a piece of medical equipment.

How Can I Acquire Authorization of My Service or Emotional Support Animal?

The Americans With Disabilities Act states tenants who require an assistance animal may be required to submit a letter from a physician, psychologist, social worker, or other health expert licensed in Wisconsin.

The letter must state they have a disability and that their pet is necessary as an accommodation.

NOTE: The ADA does not require the tenant or health care provider to disclose the condition’s specifics, and HIPPA laws still protect them.

Furthermore, applicants are not required to state anything about having a service or emotional support animal on an application.

Wis. Stats. 106.50(2r)(bg)2. & (1m)(mx), 2017 Wis. Act 317, Secs. 29 & 30, Eff. 4/18/18.

Is My Pet Covered Through My Renters Insurance?

Depending on the sort of pet you have, you may be able to get liability insurance for any harm your pet may cause.

If you have this coverage, make sure to state it in your resume and provide a copy of your policy.

Are Landlords Legally Allowed to Make Pet Owners Pay Increased Rent?

Yes, landlords can charge whatever they want for a monthly pet fee.

If you believe the additional amount is excessive, you should try to negotiate.

However, you should anticipate more time and have everything in writing.

Can My Landlord Deny Me My Security Deposit Return Just Because I Have a Pet?

No, landlords are only allowed to charge for actual harm. If your pet caused damage to the apartment, you might be charged for the repairs.

Make sure you’re not being double-charged if you’re paying extra rent for your dog and have been billed from your security deposit.

You can ask your landlord (or a court) to credit you for the amount you’ve paid in pet fees if they charge for damages. Ask to see documentation of expenditures that your landlord claims are due to your pet.

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