The Simple Truth About Landlords & Authentic Service Dog Registration

Serious displeased woman holds smartphone thinks about message content poses with favorite pet on floor surrounded by cardboard boxes isolated over beige background. Real estate and mortgage

Can my landlord ask for proof of service dog registration?

Service Dogs fulfill many rolls for many different types of people, suffering from various disabilities.  These disabilities may be obvious, or they may be completely invisible, making it difficult for people to easily identify service dogs, including landlords. For many handlers, it is common practice to have a service dog registration and obtain a certificate is an easy and pain-free way to help signal to their landlord and other members of the community that their dog is a working dog and is with a service dog registration. 

Under various legislation in both Canada and the US, service dogs are permitted to accompany their handlers to pretty much any location. For example, both the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and the Americans Disabilities Act (ADA) stipulate that service providers operating in the public must welcome service dogs that are trained to assist their handlers.  In addition, housing and rental legislation requires that landlords provide reasonable accommodations to tenants with disabilities. This expressly includes not discriminating against tenants and their service dogs.

Because a trained service dog is not classified as a pet, any rules, whether they be set by your landlord or condo board, that restrict access to pets, do not apply to service dogs. In addition, landlords are not entitled to charge additional rent in order to accommodate service dogs. 

So can a landlord ever refuse housing because of a service dog?

While the law is relatively clear, and favors services dogs and their handlers, there are certain exemptions that on balance, outweigh the rights afforded to service dogs. For example, if your service dog poses a health or safety risk to other tenants and the risks cannot be reasonably mitigated, a landlord can reject access to a service dog. However, there must be a valid reason, landlords cannot simply reject a service dog because they perceive it to be dangerous, or it appears to look aggressive.

service dog registration
Young couple playing with a pet poodle service dog at home

How do landlords verify service dog registration?

As with any service provider, business, or public establishment, there are always two questions that are permissible to ask and they are:

  1. Is the animal required because of a disability? 
  2. What task has the animal been trained to perform?

No additional questions are permitted, including questions related to the type, or severity of disability. However, when submitting rental applications, landlords can require that tenants make representations to the truth and accuracy of any information provided. This may include documentation proving your dog is in fact a service dog and you have gone through with a service dog registration.

So even though there is no formal requirement to register a service dog, landlords may request to see a certificate demonstrating that your dog is a service dog. 

Register now to receive your uniquely identifiable Service Dog Identification and Certification