If my daughter is bipolar and we got her a dog to train as a service dog, can our landlord charge us extra rent or evict us for this?

UPDATED: Mar 4, 2012

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If my daughter is bipolar and we got her a dog to train as a service dog, can our landlord charge us extra rent or evict us for this?

Asked on March 4, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) If you have a written lease, the landlord is bound by its terms until its expiration. Therefore, if you have a written lease which does not at present prohibit pets/domestic animals or require a pet/animal deposit, the landlord may neither evict you nor charge you extra for the dog.

2) I don't believe the landlord could ever block a service dog, though much depends, I suspect, on how "necessary" it is, the medical support for having the animal, etc. If there is medical need for the dog, I do not believe a landlord could block you from having one, though if it would merely "nice" for your daughter to have one, the landlord may be able to, so long as the landlord generally blocks all such animals; the landlord could not single out a service dog for exclusion under any circumstances, I believe.

Again, though, if there is a written lease, the landlord may not do anything until it has expired, unless that lease currently has some no-animals clause.

3) At the expiration a written lease, or upon 30 days notice if you only have an oral lease, the landlord could charge a "pet deposit," even for a service dog, to cover against the possibility of animal-related damage (e.g. dog urine on carpet). However, I believe the landlord would have to do this globally, for all dogs, but could not single out your service animal for a deposit.

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