Assistance dog increase?

by Readers Question

14:50 PM, 20th January 2020
About 5 months ago

Assistance dog increase?

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Assistance dog increase?

I am increasingly having potential tenants come to me with requests for housing, but with ‘assistance’ dogs in tow.

I have had requests for accommodation for a registered blind person with a guide dog, – no problem here as we had a ground floor flat and a full history of no issues with the working animal in previous accommodation etc.

Now it seems every one of my potential tenants are declaring ‘anxiety and depression’ and have an ‘official’ assistance dog. These can range from chihuahuas to bulldogs.

Am I sceptical in thinking that this is purely for a monetary benefit increase? I am unable legally to charge any more than 5 weeks rent, so the thought of having possible additional dog damage in the flat does not appeal either. Not fair on other tenants with possible noise etc.

Anyone had any experience of this too?

Reluctant Landlord



Comments

Roy B

23:18 PM, 20th January 2020
About 5 months ago

Never had a problem with tenants who have pets - they were usually grateful to be allowed them and really looked after the place better than expected.

Marie

5:34 AM, 21st January 2020
About 5 months ago

Be careful-it will be disability discrimination next if you refuse to rent to a tenant with a dog for her anxiety.

James Noble

9:41 AM, 21st January 2020
About 5 months ago

It's a con. We're getting to the stage that unless you have some sort of 'disability' then you're not 'normal'. Everyone wants a label. As for having a dog for support - rubbish. They need to learn to live without such a crutch - for their own benefit. If they really believe this, they are going to find the outside world difficult to cope with. Will they ever be able to go abroad? (I bet your tenant will!) Concerts, cinema, shopping in certain shops, etc. etc. You'll be doing them a favour saying no to pets! Harsh? Yes. If you are worried about saying 'no', ask for a doctor's note at the very least.
James.

Dennis Leverett

10:36 AM, 21st January 2020
About 5 months ago

I was going to say same as James, ask for a letter from their Doctor confirming their "disability", bet you don't get one.

Sunrise

11:23 AM, 21st January 2020
About 5 months ago

I believe you can still use a pet clause in the Tenancy Agreement which says that the tenants agree to pay for professional cleaning at the end of the tenancy, including the cleaning of all carpets and treating the property for fleas and mites. I have used a template from http://www.letswithpets.org.uk in the past. It also says any damage caused by the pet has to be paid for (of course) and only gives permission for one specific pet. There used to be a pet policy that you could use which detailed conditions, such as not leaving pet alone for more than 4 hours, making sure it was treated for fleas etc but I am not sure how you would be able to enforce all the rules. Not a great help but at least your property would be professionally cleaned. (Personally, I would stress that they had to supply the paid invoice for this before I would release the deposit.)

Beaver

13:38 PM, 21st January 2020
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by James Noble at 21/01/2020 - 09:41
My experience of tenants with dogs is that if the tenant does not clean the property properly you may have to spend much longer cleaning the carpets to get rid of the dog hair, and possibly the smell.

That's not a big problem if the tenants know that *if* they do not clean the property properly when they vacate you will take the increased costs out of the deposit, *if* the law allows you to take it out of the deposit, and *if* the process implementing the law that protects the deposit works in such a way that you can still do it. How would you prove for example to the satisfaction of a tenancy deposit protection service that you had experienced excess cleaning costs? It is hard to record smell and it is hard to see dog hair until you discover that it is repeatedly clogging your carpet cleaner and it's taking you an extra 8 hours to clean the property.

Luke P

16:42 PM, 21st January 2020
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Sunrise at 21/01/2020 - 11:23
You don’t get the choice whether to release (or not) the deposit. You could only get away with demanding a professional clean upon exit if you could prove to the deposit scheme a professional clean was carried out just prior to the tenancy’s commencement.

EmB

18:46 PM, 21st January 2020
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by James Noble at 21/01/2020 - 09:41
This is completely unfair, I have a service dog for my seizures and I literally can't leave the house without her as she tells me when I'm going to have a seizure and gets help if I do, which without her I'll call and smash my head open or end up have a seizure in the middle of the road and get run over. Yes, she is a crutch, in the same way a wheelchair is a crutch for people who can't walk but taking that away from them won't help them walk! My dog has never caused any damage or problems in accomodation, she's cleaner than the other tenants! Maybe you should consider people who actually depend on a service dog before you insult and generalise everyone, I'd do anything to not be disabled so saying it's a fad is like saying someone with cancer likes dying.

Disabled Chick

18:55 PM, 21st January 2020
About 5 months ago

People who have a registered assistance dog should not be discriminated against because they require a working dog. It doesn't matter whether it is because they are visually impaired or mentally ill, if the dog is registered as an official assistance dog then you can't pick and choose your tenants based on whether you deem their disability as real or not. You have already said that you had no problem with a blind person applying. I suffer from conversion disorder (which, even though a mental illness, causes temporary paralysis and blindness, seizures, mobility problems associated with physical disabilities etc.). I have had to deal with people who don't view it as "real" disability. However, the government seems to think it is "real" enough and provides me with the same disabilty benefits as any other traditionally disabled person.

In regards to your comment James Noble, my "disability" is not a label, it is a mental illness that impacts all activities I do. I wish I could live without a crutch (sometimes literally because of my "disability") but unfortunately that is not possible.
I have recently applied for an assistance dog myself and all the charities say that official working animals come with the correct paperwork and jacket to wear to prove their authenticity. Anyone who claims to have an "official" assistance dog should be able to prove this so I would ask for that instead of a doctor's note. If they are registered, you can't charge them anymore because their assistance dog will have been trained correctly and will not cause dog-related damage or distress to other tenants (because they fail training dogs who aren't following orders or who are excessively noisy). If it turns out that their dog is not registered as a working dog, you can treat their dog as a pet and refuse their pet if you feel it necessary. That is completely your right however I agree with Roy B that many pet owners are so thrilled to be allowed pets that they take such good care of the place. Phoebe

Mark Alexander

19:58 PM, 21st January 2020
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Disabled Chick at 21/01/2020 - 18:55
Very useful insights, thank you.

I was not aware that all service dogs came with official paperwork and jackets. I will definitely bear that in mind if I am ever approached by a potential tenants who claims to have a service dog.

I am already pet friendly anyway, except for where leasehold covenants prohibit pets in flats etc. However, this begs another question, which I hope you don't mind me asking. Would a leaseholders objection to me letting a flat to a person with a genuine service dog be valid in law, or would they be in breach of the law themselves for discrimination?

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