Assistance Animals

The Benefits of Assistance Animals at Rental Communities

    Property teams are often so consumed by the process surrounding assistance animal accommodation requests that they tend to overlook a very important detail—these animals can provide a widespread array of benefits at a rental community.

    Whether their impact is rooted in functionality, inclusivity, or simply promoting the overall harmony of a community, assistance animals largely play a positive role.

    Here are some of the primary ways assistance animals—both service and support animals—can benefit the individuals they serve and the rental community as a whole.

    Support and independence: Naturally, the idea that assistance animals enable residents with disabilities to live more independently is at the forefront. Assistance animals can provide stability during walks, detect medical emergencies, and retrieve objects for their companions, along with many other tasks that vary by individual needs.

    Mental health support: Emotional support animals (ESAs) offer a vast contingent of therapeutic benefits. They can help alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. According to a recent Gallup poll, 24% of adults under 30 experience loneliness, and these young adults are a significant portion of the modern rental demographic.

    Safety and peace of mind: Many assistance animals are trained to detect seizures or other medical emergencies, which adds a vital layer of safety and security for their companions. Property teams have peace of mind knowing these animals are present and can take meaningful steps to calm their owner and alert others in the instance of a medical emergency.

    Social interaction: Animals are natural icebreakers that jumpstart residents' social interactions. While everyday pets assist in this pursuit, assistance animals can also serve as conversation starters, leading to invaluable connections and stronger community bonds.

    Legal compliance and inclusivity: When a rental community adheres to the assistance animal guidelines set forth by the Fair Housing Act, it demonstrates that the property is committed to inclusivity and equal opportunity. Granted, welcoming assistance animals isn't merely a matter of legal compliance—it’s a key component in creating a more inclusive living environment. It enables property teams to foster an atmosphere of acceptance for all residents by recognizing and accommodating the needs of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, welcoming these animals improves the ability of the disabled requesters to function in their homes and improves the quality of their lives.

    It's important to note that assistance animals are never to be made publicly known or identified by the community’s staff. This can happen, however, when an assistance animal’s owner decides to publicly share that information by using an identifying vest (which is not required) or by the owner’s word of mouth. However, the benefits described will remain regardless of whether the animal is perceived as an assistance animal or a standard pet.

    Property teams will almost always be aware of assistance animals due to the reasonable accommodation request process for the assistance animal. And to be fair, the process can be challenging and complex. The legalities surrounding them can be confusing, and a few bad actors who try to sneak in regular pets under the guise of an assistance animal can further complicate things. Fortunately, teams have the option to outsource the evaluation of assistance animal accommodation requests to ensure a smooth process and little disruption to other pressing tasks.

    Once the process is complete and assistance animals officially live in the community, the sizable contingent of benefits begins to shine through. The presence of assistance animals can foster a more welcoming and compassionate community environment, benefiting all residents by helping to create a sense of empathy and understanding.