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Ohio Landlord/Tenant Law: Service and Assistance Animals

This page deals specifically with issues surrounding fair housing and the allowance of service and assistance animals.  The Federal Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act require that landlords reasonably accommodate service and assistance animals for tenants with disabilities. Note that, because Condominium Associations are private, the Americans with Disabilities Act does not generally apply to them, but the Fair Housing Act does, see Fair Housing and ADA: Dealing with the Legal Rights of Disabled Condo and HOA Residents.  A service animal provides a specific function, such as a seeing eye dog. An emotional support, or assistance, animal provides needed mental health support. Some things to remember:

  • Even if a landlord has a no pet policy in place, the law does not consider service or assistance animals as pets and therefore, the animal is exempt from such a restriction.
  • Landlords cannot charge a pet deposit or pet rent for service or assistance animals. However, the tenant is liable for any damage that the service animal may cause.
  • Landlords can require written verification from the tenant’s health care provider that they are disabled, but cannot ask for any specifics about the disability.
  • Landlords can require written verification from the tenant’s health care provider that the service or emotional support animal is needed.
  • Landlords can request copies of the animal’s health records to prove the animal is in good health, parasite-free and immunized/vaccinated.
  • Landlords can write warnings or even evict a tenant with a service or emotional support animal if the animal is disturbing others, posing a threat to others or causing considerable damage to the property. See Disability Rights Ohio - Service Animals.

Books at the Franklin County Law Library. They may be checked out by Central Ohio attorneys. Everyone else can use them in the Library.

Under Title II and III of the ADA, service animals are limited to dogs. However, entities must make reasonable modifications in policies to allow individuals with disabilities to use miniature horses if they have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities. See Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals from the ADA Network.