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Can Tennessee landlords prohibit all pets owned by tenants?

On Behalf of | Oct 12, 2023 | Real Estate

Landlords in Tennessee provide housing amenities in exchange for rent payments. They typically have the authority to set specific terms related to a tenant’s use of the property. One of the most important considerations for both a tenant and a landlord is whether or not someone can have animals at the property.

Landlords in Tennessee often have very clear clauses in their leases prohibiting animals on the premises or rules that allow them to charge more for pets. Additional deposits and extra rent are both common contract clauses related to this issue. Yet, Tennessee landlords cannot lawfully prohibit all animal ownership among their tenants.

Service animals are the only exception

As property owners, landlords do theoretically have the right to decide what tenants can and cannot do at a rental home. However, they cannot impose restrictions that would affect someone’s health or reasonable access as someone with a disabling medical condition.

Therefore, Tennessee landlords may need to accommodate tenants who have service animals. Currently, the federal government only recognizes either trained dogs or miniature horses as service animals. Emotional support animals have no formal recognition under Tennessee state law and are not eligible for the same legal consideration that actual service animals are.

Landlords may have to accommodate prospective tenants who have service animals without charging them extra for doing so. Yet, they are generally under no obligation to accommodate pets or emotional support animals in the same ways they do service animals.

Understanding the rights of both landlords and tenants may help people better navigate a conflict about the use of a rental home concerning pets, which can be an emotional matter for all involved.