Support Animals in New York HOA Communities: Yes or No?

Support Animals in New York HOA Communities: Yes or No?

Service dogs have been around for decades, but they have a lesser-known alter ego: support animals. Post-pandemic, experts have noticed an explosion in people getting emotional support animals.

There's no debate around service animals; if people need them, you must acquiesce. But support animals are a whole different can of worms. Should you allow pets of this type in your New York homeowners association?

The debate is fierce and it's hard to get a conclusive answer. Follow along as we discuss what to make of this new type of service animal.

What Qualifies as a Support Animal?

An association is only as good as its rules, and the most successful HOAs stick to them. That's why it's critical to define what a support animal is before determining whether to allow one.

An emotional support animal (or ESA) provides some degree of therapy treatment for its owner. The owner must get a diagnosis and ESA letter from a licensed therapist to have one. That said, an ESA does not require any specific training.

ESAs vs. Service Animals

It's important to differentiate support animals from service animals. Service animals are (usually) trained dogs that get certification from the ADA. Their training allows them to help their owners perform tasks that they cannot.

Service animals are essential, and a landlord cannot deny them. Further, a tenant does not have to disclose that they own a service animal. Support animals do not have any of these protections.

Should You Allow Support Animals?

This question will depend on your personal taste and your overall goals. Like all things, there are upsides and downsides to permitting ESAs on your property and in your HOA.

ESAs Increase Maintenance Costs

Dogs tend to be messy and increase overall property maintenance costs. They shed their hair, scratch your hardwood floors, or poop on your carpets. Though they may be a nice benefit for the tenant, their downsides can easily be untenable for you.

There is simply no knowing if a tenant is responsible with pets. Further, some tenants may use an ESA as a sneaky way to get a pet into the apartment. Since they are easier to obtain than service animals, be on your guard.

ESAs May Increase Rent Incomes

As ESAs are on the rise, so are tenants looking for apartments that allow them. If your apartment permits pets and ESAs, you can raise your prices without pushing away customers.

Just as an HOA increases property values, pet policies increase rental incomes. Plus, it may help secure long-term tenants. Pet-friendly apartments are hard to find, so allowing ESAs may give you that golden tenant that sticks around for years.

Manage With PMI Manhattan Group

Support animals are increasing in popularity, but they don't have the same ADA protections as service animals. Choosing to allow them may raise your HOA maintenance costs overall. However, it also brings the potential of higher rental incomes since your properties will be more desirable.

PMI Manhattan Group in New York is the Big Apple's leading property management company. Our 20-plus years of experience and state-of-the-art tech gives you an unbeatable experience. Consider boosting your prospects with our comprehensive property management services.