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In property management, service animals, emotional support animals, and pets, in general, are big considerations that will come up for potential tenants. As REALTORS®, property managers, and landlords, it's important to know how to do things right to help honor those tenants who really do need the help that comes from having a service or emotional support animal. Cynthia DeLuca is on this episode to share her expertise and knowledge on how service and emotional support animals are protected under federal law. She also shares some best practices on questions you can ask and how to put a policy in place so you have consistency among all potential tenants and situations.

[3:35] - In 2020, many more people got pets that may be service or emotional support animals. In the real estate community, there are protections in place for these animals and clients who have them.

[6:45] - Cynthia and Monica discuss how the Americans with Disability Act protects service animals and what qualifies as a service animal.

[9:35] - This comes into play for REALTORS® because a potential tenant cannot just claim that their pet is a service animal and trained; they must be trained for the disability.

[15:18] - Cynthia and Monica discuss other things that are common with service animals but are not required, and how regulations can differ by state.

[18:05] - Cynthia and Monica discuss the Fair Housing Act, how it protects emotional support animals, and the specificity to one industry.

[20:26] - Cynthia's work with HUD helped to create an order under the Fair Housing Act that clarifies how they feel the law should be applied, giving landlords more freedom to discern what they will allow for their properties.

[24:10] - The FHA defines an emotional support animal as an animal that provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects for a person's disability.

[28:25] - Service animal and emotional support animal protections and exemptions

[30:57] - Cynthia discusses how landlords, property managers, and REALTORS® can handle situations with potential tenants who have a service or emotional support animal, including what questions to ask to find out if they are covered under the ADA.

[33:38] - She also shares different questions to ask to see if it falls under the Fair Housing Act

[35:30] - If the animal isn't covered under the ADA or the FHA, you would treat that animal as a pet. Once the animal is protected under federal law, property managers and REALTORS®  must modify their existing rules to allow the animal.

[43:15] - Once an assistance animal is allowed to live in the residence, they don't necessarily get a free pass to exist however they want.

[45:35] - Cynthia talks about the importance of having these guidelines in writing: the 2 questions under the ADA, the 2 questions under the FHA, and then the documentation you would request if it's not obvious.

[49:20] - Remember to always keep the hierarchy of law in mind. The federal law will overrule any state or local ordinance.

About Cynthia DeLuca

Cynthia began her real estate career in 1999 and quickly became a top producer. A few years later, she decided to open her own real estate company, which grew to the largest independent real estate company in Central Florida. In 2016, Cynthia sold her company, which consisted of 6 offices and over 135 members on her team to one of the nation's top 350 Real Estate companies.

After selling her real estate brokerage, Cynthia decided to focus her career on helping other REALTORS® reach a higher potential. An instructor since 2001, she has been there, done that, walks the talk, and loves to share her experiences with others so they can excel in their career.

Cynthia's love of real estate goes beyond her professional career. Cynthia purchased her first rental property almost 20 years ago and as the saying goes, the rest is history. She now manages a portfolio of rental properties together with her husband.

After being asked a multitude of times how she got started, Cynthia wrote a book called The High Heels Landlord, available on Amazon. Her second book, released in late 2018, named Fill'er Up, is also available on Amazon.

Cynthia has been featured in both Florida REALTOR® Magazine and the national REALTOR® Magazine. She has received the prestigious Florida REALTORS®'s Educator of the Year award along with the Orlando Regional REALTORS® Association's Educator of the Year award.

Cynthia's passion is property management and investment properties. In her spare time, she collects more rental properties and visits her favorite hangout, Lowe's.

Cynthia has spoken at thousands of engagements at local, Florida, and National Association events.