Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals And Pets In Kansas City

Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals And Pets In Kansas City

Pets are more popular than ever: A whopping two-thirds of Americans have an animal companion at home.

So, what does this mean for renters? More importantly, what does it mean for landlords?

If you're a landlord, you may be wondering how to tell the difference between support animals, service animals, and plain pets. Read on to learn more and decide the pet policy for your rental unit.

Service Animals

Have you ever seen a dog out in public with a vest or harness that says they're working? This type of dog is most likely a service animal.

Service animals are typically associated with people who are blind or in a wheelchair. However, not all disabilities are visible. Service animals can help their owners with things like:

  • Identifying allergens
  • Alerting and assisting with seizures
  • Retrieving items
  • Sensing emotional distress

The biggest key difference between service animals and other types of companions is that service animals are protected by the law. They must be allowed into any establishment with their owners.

This also applies to housing. Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, you as a landlord must allow and accommodate service animals and their disabled owners.

These tenants usually require other accommodations if they have a service animal. For instance, they may need a unit on the ground floor or a single-story home if they have a wheelchair. Easy outdoor access is also beneficial for service dogs to relieve themselves.

Applicants with service animals need to have equal opportunity when they apply to live in your property. If there is any hint of discrimination, you could be setting yourself up for a lawsuit.

Emotional Support Animals

Unlike service animals, there aren't clear emotional support animal laws. If you find yourself stressing out about pets, you have no legal obligation to allow emotional support animals on your property if the applicant isn't disabled.

The designation of emotional support animal is fairly recent as well. Many times, people who want preferential treatment for their pet will simply get an emotional support animal registration from a therapist.

In Kansas, emotional support animals are allowed for housing purposes if the applicant can prove they need the emotional support and it is tied to a disability.


Pets have no protection under the law. You can deny pets from your property altogether, or require additional funds such as a pet deposit or pet rent. These can help offset some of the costs if a pet causes property damage.

However, if you want a wider applicant pool, it may be in your best interest to allow pets.

Know the Difference Between Types of Animals

As a landlord, you shouldn't have to worry about which animals your tenants own. With this guide, you can determine whether they are allowed to have their animal with them in the unit.

Are you looking for property management help in Kansas City? SCUDO Real Estate + Property Management is here to partner with you for all of your landlord needs.

Ready to get started with full-service property management? Contact us today.