Assistance dog increase?

by Readers Question

14:50 PM, 20th January 2020
About a month 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

Leah

17:59 PM, 22nd January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

I’d be very wary of following some of the advice here. I am very knowledgable in assistance dog law because I’ve been involved in legal disputes and I have an assistance dog myself.
My dog is an organisation dog, but I can’t stress this enough *not all assistance dog owners have ‘papers’*. There aren’t ANY legit registries for assistance dogs. There’s ADUK, but they’re not a governing body, nor a registry. Assistance dogs can be privately trained, meaning they have no papers. Even ADUK ‘papers’ aren’t legal documents - they’re basically membership cards that help the owner explain about the dog. There’s a lot of smaller organisations that aren’t part of ADUK, and they’re just as legit too.
Secondly, I’d check where you stand on seeing doctors’ notes. I’m not sure you have the right to demand those, and doing so could cause dispute.
Next, you cannot charge additional cleaning fees, even if your contract states you charge extra for pet fees. An assistance dog is an auxiliary aid, which is the same category as wheelchairs or crutches. You can’t charge extra for potential cleaning needed from wheelchairs, and you can’t charge for assistance dogs either. This is because they’re reasonable adjustments necessary to create equality.
So if you can’t see proof it’s an assistance dog, and you can’t charge cleaning fees, then what can you do? You can charge extra for actual damage caused by the dog. If they tear up your sofa, you can charge for that. If they break your door, you can charge for that.
You can evict someone because of problems caused by the dog. If the dog barks constantly and bothers the neighbours (unless it is barking to alert a hearing impaired owner of a cooker timer or something) you can challenge that. You can challenge them if the dog is defecating indoors, if it’s aggressive, or attacking neighbours’ animals. You do have rights, but so does the dog owner. You’ll find that most assistance dog owners are very respectful and just want to live peacefully. They don’t have a dog for extra money - you don’t actually get extra money unless it’s a guide or hearing dog. Sometimes you actually get less.

Finally, I think it’s a terrible attitude to have that some people are commenting on why an owner has an assistance dog, and even suggesting they should do without. If a war veteran has a PTSD dog, are you going to tell them they shouldn’t? Even if the dog saves their life every single day? Assistance dogs are more than only guide dogs. They can alert to seizures, fainting episodes, severe panic attacks, guide unwell owners home. They pick up dropped items for people in wheelchairs, or help people dress or undress. They can do so much and it’s not up to you to say they’re not needed. You can travel abroad with an assistance dog, but yes, maybe I won’t go abroad in my lifetime. Maybe I’m too disabled. But I love the theatre and concerts. Being disabled doesn’t mean you hop in a wheelchair and shut yourself away for the rest of your life. You find ways to get through the day with your disability and have the same opportunities as everyone else. If I can’t go to Tesco without my dog then that’s my business. If he went and defecated on the floor then they’re well within their right to ask me to leave. Without him I’d be stuck inside all day unable to function.

It’s ultimately up to you but I’d do more research not based on people’s opinions because refusing an assistance dog just because you don’t believe it’s real could cause issues for you.

Luke P

19:16 PM, 22nd January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Leah at 22/01/2020 - 17:59
So how can a LL tell the difference between a genuine assistance dog (such as a trained animal for a blind person) and someone just pulling the wool, trying to claim their chihuahua is to ‘assist me with their anxiety?

Mark Alexander

19:19 PM, 22nd January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Leah at 22/01/2020 - 17:59
What Policies do Tesco and other food retailers adopt in relation to people claiming their dog is an 'assistance dog', if the owner cannot prove this please?

James Noble

19:23 PM, 22nd January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

In reply to Leah - Of course most Landlords would be happy to accept a genuine working dog. Even I would , as much as I dislike them in general. But this attitude opens the door for anyone to claim they need a dog for ... whatever reason. Most will be genuine, and obvious. But we all know that all tenants do not always tell the truth. James

WP

10:25 AM, 23rd January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Luke P at 22/01/2020 - 19:16
My point exactly! In this instance it is therefore totally up to the LL to determine what they will accept and why they wont. Clearly a valid reason must be given. If a valid reason is not given then I suggest as a tenant they may not want to deal with this LL in the first place.

Mark Alexander

10:34 AM, 23rd January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by WP at 23/01/2020 - 10:25
Property owners must always be given the ability to choose whether or not to rent properties to people. Obviously, if a landlord has a choice of potential tenants, he or she will want to pick the one that he feels most comfortable renting to. If none of the applicants are suitable he simply keeps advertising the property and leaves it vacant.

Dorian H

23:21 PM, 24th January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Dogs are the tip of the iceberg. Next up is emotional support peacocks, goats, turkeys and gliding possums. You think I jest?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51214829

Gillian Schifreen

11:02 AM, 25th January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

I have fairly high end properties on the South Coast. Not only to I encourage people with pets I also run a charity in Portugal which rehomes dogs into the UK. Now most of my tenants and their friends and family have one (or more0 of our dogs! Makes great business sense, we keep our tenants for ever as really nice dog friendly houses are really difficult to find. We've had no problems with damage other than normal wear and tear. Give it a go, keeping good tenants for a very long time is a good business model.

James Noble

18:14 PM, 25th January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Gillian Schifreen at 25/01/2020 - 11:02
Don't we have enough stray and abandoned dogs of our own without bringing in more from Portugal? I had two 'low-end' properties in St Helens (Lancs.) Despite a 'no pets' rule in the agreement, both ended up keeping a dog. Both houses suffered from this. Difficult to get rid of a dog once it is in the property, whatever the contract might state. James

WP

9:58 AM, 27th January 2020
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Gillian Schifreen at 25/01/2020 - 11:02
I can see where you are coming from, but as I say I house some of the well how should I term it...more challenging tenant. Lots of issues so its a straight no from me. We are not talking sensible pet owners here! They can;t look after themselves properly never mind a pet!

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