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Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets in TX

Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets in TX

We Americans love our dogs. According to the American Pet Products Association, around 62 million households in the U.S. own at least one dog. Dogs bring comfort, companionship, and security, and are often seen more as family members than pets.

In Texas, many rental properties allow dogs and pets, but others have strict no-pet policies. Understanding the differences between pets, emotional support animals (ESAs), and service animals is crucial for both tenants and landlords.

This knowledge helps everyone understand their rights and responsibilities when renting property in Texas. Let's take a closer look at the differences in this blog post.

Service Animals in Rental Properties

Service animals are specially trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities. In Texas, most service animals are dogs, but miniature horses can also be service animals. They assist with a range of tasks, from guiding someone who is visually impaired to alerting those with hearing impairments to specific sounds.

When it comes to rental properties, service animals have strong legal protections. Landlords cannot refuse to rent to someone because they have a service animal, even if there is a no-pet policy.

Service animals are not considered pets, so landlords can't charge pet fees or deposits for them. Service animals are allowed in all common areas, and tenants with service animals have the same rights as other tenants.

Emotional Support Animals in Rental Properties

Emotional support animals (ESAs) are different from service animals. They provide comfort and emotional support to people with mental health conditions like anxiety or depression. ESAs do not require specialized training, but they must be prescribed by a mental health professional.

In rental properties, ESAs have some protections, but they aren't as extensive as those for service animals. Landlords in Texas must make reasonable accommodations for tenants with ESAs. This is the case even if there is a no-pet policy.

However, landlords can request documentation showing that the ESA is necessary for the tenant's mental health. Unlike service animals, landlords might still require a pet deposit or fee for an ESA, but they cannot refuse to rent solely because of the ESA.

Pets in Rental Properties

Finally, pets are dogs that are not service animals or ESAs. In Texas rental properties, pets are subject to the rules set by the landlord. Some properties welcome pets, while others have strict no-pet policies. If a property allows pets, there might be size or breed restrictions, as well as fees or deposits.

Landlords have the right to enforce their pet policies, and tenants must follow them. If a property has a no-pet policy, tenants cannot bring their pets without risking a breach of contract. For those renting with pets, it's important to understand the rules and ensure compliance with the lease agreement.

Takeaways for Tenants and Landlords in Texas

As we have highlighted, the key difference in rental properties between service animals, ESAs, and pets is the level of protection they receive. Crucially, service animals have the most robust legal protections, with no additional fees or restrictions.

As a landlord, understanding service animals, pets, and emotional support animal rental laws is crucial. Contact Monte Davis Property Management to stay compliant with rental regulations. We're here to help you navigate the ins and outs of support animals in Texas rental properties.