© 2023 Ideastream Public Media

1375 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 916-6100 | (877) 399-3307

WKSU is a public media service licensed to Kent State University and operated by Ideastream Public Media.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

In Ohio, Most No-Pet Policies Can't Apply to Tenants with Animal Assistants

Service animals can include highly trained animals like this Shetland pony. But they need not have special training.

The difference between an animal assistant and a pet is an increasing concern for landlords in Ohio and the rest of the country. It was a big part of the discussion of fair-housing law at a conference of hundreds of landlords in Akron this past weekend.

All service dogs – such as seeing-eye dogs -- are animal assistants. But under fair-housing law, not all animal assistants are service dogs. They can include everything from hamsters to Shetland ponies, and serve a number of needs, including emotional support.

David Oppenheimer of the Ohio attorney general’s office, told the landlords they can ask for some validation of why a tenant needs an animal, but not much more.

“They have to be aware that they can’t require insurance, higher rent as the one gentleman said to get around things. You have to be aware that you can’t have deposits.”

Oppenheimer says landlords cannot evict someone who already lives in a no-pets property and then gets a support animal. He says the justification for the animal can come from a variety of professionals, including a doctor, counselor or social worker.

Click here for more on Ohio  landlord-tenant rules.

M.L. Schultze is a freelance journalist. She spent 25 years at The Repository in Canton where she was managing editor for nearly a decade, then served as WKSU's news director and digital editor until her retirement.