The Times They are a Changing for Property Managers

For both landlords and tenants, the rental market has become a changing landscape. Recently, at the REALTORSĀ® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo held in Washington D.C., property management and policy experts offered some guidance to attendees of the Properly Management Forum, this advice on some very important issues.

Are Service Animal Request Negotiable?

Over the last few years, the number of requests for service animal exceptions has increased significantly. According to the guidelines published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Americans With Disabilities Act, property managers and landlords are required to make reasonable accommodations for any tenant who request a comfort or service animal no matter what the building’s animal policy happens to be.

While you cannot deny a tenant the right to have a service animal, you do have the right to negotiate with them in certain instances. For example, a tenant says the letter they have from their doctors says they are entitled to have as many cats as they want, as a property manager you do have the right to say something along the lines of, “I am sorry, you live in a one-bedroom studio apartment and I don’t think there is room for so many cats, is there another way we can accommodate your needs?”

Another problem landlords and property managers face, is the number of fake doctor’s notes certifying a service animal. Many disability groups are now looking at where people are finding these certifications online for a service animal who has been trained to perform specific tasks for someone who has no need of them. Currently, if you have any questions regarding current laws regarding service animals, you should call your local HUD office.

What about Marijuana?

Here in California, medical marijuana has been legal for a long time, but only recently has recreational marijuana become legal. As a property manager or landlord, you cannot deny a person who has a medical license to consume marijuana the right to do so on your properties. However, you do have the right to say how they may consume it (smoke, oils, edibles, etc.).

When it comes to recreational marijuana, you do have the right to deny someone the right to smoke or consume it on or inside your property. But again, if you are not going to bar its use from your properties, you do have the right to say how your tenants may consume it.

Along with legalizing recreational marijuana use, Californians may also grow their own weed. While they can only grow six plants, each plant can consume up to a gallon of water per day and needs at least 17 hours of quality light per day. If the lease includes utilities, you may want to think about how expensive allowing your tenants to grow their own marijuana can be.

One last thing to consider, the federal government still considers marijuana to be a Schedule 1 drug. Thus the possibility exists that any of your properties where marijuana is being grown or consumed could be subject to raids and seizure by the federal government.