The landscape for Southern California property managers and tenants is rapidly changing. At this year’s REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo held in Washington D.C., the Property Management Forum offered information on the best ways to handle two of the hottest issues they are likely to face.
What to Do About the Rising Number of Service Animal Requests
For many years the number of service animal requests was low enough that most property managers rarely, if ever, had to deal with them. Today that number has grown to epic proportions. Under rules created by the Americans with Disabilities Act in cooperation with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, property managers are required to “make a reasonable accommodation for tenants who request a service or comfort animal.” This is the case, even if their property has a strict “no animals” policy.
While a property manager cannot legally refuse to rent to someone because they have a service animal, there are limits. For example, if a tenant gets a note from their doctor that says they can have two dozen “service” cats, you have the right to negotiate this by saying the home is not large enough for this many animals. At the same time, there has been a huge rise in the number of online certifications from a “doctor” that threaten to put the program in danger. Currently, the National Association of Realtors is working with both the HUD and ADA for more guidance on how to handle the issue of fake certifications.
Marijuana Usage and Growth
Due to recent changes in marijuana laws, there has been a lot of confusion regarding property managers rights with regard to who they must allow to use medical marijuana in their properties and where they stand on recreational marijuana. Under current laws, property managers are not permitted to ban the use of medical marijuana. However, you can specify in the lease what forms of pot their tenants can use such as edibles, oils, or smoking.
When it comes to permitting a tenant to grow their own pot plants, which is legal in 17 states, there is another issue that must be considered. Under federal law marijuana consumption and growth are still illegal. If you permit your tenants to grow or use recreational marijuana, your property may be subject to raids and seizures.
On top of this, if water and utilities are included in the rent, a single marijuana plant needs at least one gallon of water and up to 17 hours of light per day to grow. As you can imagine this gets very expensive, very quickly. It is up to you as the property manager to set your marijuana policies from the outset and ensure they are clearly stated in the lease and that each of your tenants is made fully aware of them. While this might not stop the feds from seizing your property in the event a tenant is busted, it might discourage your tenants from turning your property into a grow house.