Comfort Pets

The definition of comfort is simply the easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress. We all know how to get our own comfort, from a hug of a loved one to a grilled cheese sammich and soup. It may come from a favorite quilt wrapped around you at home on the sofa to the purring of your favorite 4 legged beast.  “Comfort animals” have become quite the rage to folks in this decade and sadly they are not so comforting to other folks.  But comfort animals are different than assistance animals.

                It is rare that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (the Feds) file claims against Utah Landlords. In my 33 years as a real estate broker I can think of about a handful of cases that I’ve read about, so it’s pretty unusual to hear about a new case filing. HUD even does random tests of landlords by sending in phony tenants or buyers to leasing and real estate companies to check that all is in order of the laws of fair housing.  In this story, HUD has just announced that the owner and manager of the Pine Cove Apartments at 1243 E. Alameda Avenue has allegedly violated the Fair Housing Act by denying reasonable accommodation requests to potential renters with disabilities. A woman and her 10 pound dog were denied a lease even though she had a doctor’s note prescribing the animal as an emotional support. She was supposedly told by the landlord that other tenants are allergic to dogs or don’t like dogs. The complainant went to the proper authorities who conducted a sting operation at the property and each time it was found that there appeared to be discrimination going on against people with disabilities. The case will go to court and if the landlord is found guilty, they could pay some big bucks in fines.

                Anyone can get a certificate on-line that certifies their favorite miniature pig, cat, dog, horse, snake, turtle are their Comfort or Assistance Animals. For a landlord, a letter from a doctor is pretty clear evidence there’s a need for the animal. Know though, that during this time of year when many people travel, airlines have strict rules for your comfort pets when traveling with you. Effective this 2016, Delta Airlines no longer accepts warm blooded animals on flights with an average flight time of greater than 12 hours. If your flight is shorter you can carry on a pet if it can fit under your seat for a onetime $125 fee. Birds can only travel on domestic flights. Larger pets must be shipped in a kennel in the cargo hold for a fee. Seeing eye dogs/guide dogs/assistance dogs are permitted to travel in the cabin on the floor or in an adjoining seat and man, if you’re a landlord, don’t even think you can ban such an animal from your property if a tenant qualifies to lease!