Did you know that spending a mere ten minutes a day with a dog can help reduce your stress levels if you suffer from anxiety?
That fact led the government to conclude that support animals were a right for those who needed this four-legged form of assistance in their lives.
If you run an HOA in Indianapolis, Indiana, there is a chance you'll get a request from a potential tenant about accepting support animals. Read on to find out what you need to do.
What Is a Support Animal?
Support animals are different from pets. Their primary purpose is to help their owners.
In Indianapolis, the law splits support animals into two subgroups. The first are service animals. A service animal is one that helps an individual with everyday tasks, like a guide dog for people who are blind.
The second group is emotional support animals. These provide comfort to people with specific mental health needs. Both help owners, but the law treats the two differently regarding HOAs.
Indianapolis Law: What You Need to Know
Indianapolis has the Fair Housing Act. That means that housing associations must make reasonable efforts to accommodate those with disabilities. That includes support animals needed for residents.
So, though your HOA might restrict pets, you must make allowances for support animals.
Since state laws can change, always stay updated with the latest regulations. Not only will this ensure you are fair, it will ensure your HOA is always compliant.
HOAs: Your Rights
Accepting animals into an HOA property isn't always straightforward. There are practical concerns, like the space you need for animals. You need to consider the rights of neighbors, too.
So, while you must try and accommodate support animals that come with conditions, you can deny a request for an animal if you have grounds for doing so, such as a lack of outdoor space or a safety concern.
But you must be able to justify these reasons, and they must be non-discriminatory.
You can also accept support animals but create written guidelines. That might cover things like the animal's behavior and designated areas for them.
It's important to remember that there are potential repercussions for HOAs if they deny a request for a support animal.
If an HOA fails to show inclusivity and can't demonstrate they've made reasonable allowances, they could face a legal claim from the applicant.
If you accept a support animal, your resident will have specific responsibilities, too.
First, they must show that the animal is a registered support animal, not a pet. They'll need the appropriate paperwork.
They must also manage the animal's behavior and ensure it doesn't disturb neighbors or the wider community. Residents could face a potential eviction if they fail to do that and the animal becomes a nuisance or a safety issue.
Support Animals: Knowing Your Landlord Rights
When considering support animals for your HOA community, ensure you know the law. It will protect you against discrimination claims.
For more help handling tenants for your HOA, get in touch with the PMI Meridian Management team. Our association management services in Indianapolis, Indiana, can help you.