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Topic: owner

Service & Comfort Animals- Must Landlords Make Accommodations?

Posted by Josh Kahane on January 31st, 2012

Owners and management companies may, at their discretion, decide whether or not to implement no-pet    policies at a particular apartment community.  A no pet policy prohibits tenants from keeping pets of any kind in their apartments; however, owners and management companies have certain legal obligations to make   accommodations to allow certain specific types of animals to reside with a tenant in an apartment even when those apartments are in communities with clear no pet policies.

The law views service and comfort animals, not as pets, but as day-to-day needs of individuals suffering from physical and/or mental disabilities.  Because of this, management is required to make reasonable                accommodations to allow the presence of the animals in the homes of those who can show the requisite need.

Service Animals

A service animal is one which is individually trained to the requirements of an individual with a disability, such as protection, rescue, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.  Guide animals for the blind or visually impaired, signal animals for the deaf or hearing impaired, and service animals for other disabled people are  all service animals and not considered pets under the law.  The law (both at the federal and state level)      specifically prohibits management from refusing to rent to a disabled person who needs a service animal.   Instead, the law requires that management make reasonable accommodations to allow the disabled            individual the use and assistance of the dedicated service animal.

 Comfort Animals  

Unlike service animals, there is no law or regulation which specifies that management must allow a disabled person to have a comfort animal.    While a service animal is trained to perform physical acts to aid a disabled person, a comfort animal provides love, reassurance, social interaction and other emotional benefits.  Advocates of comfort animals say that they  provide substantial health benefits, particularly to emotionally disabled persons.

While comfort animals are not within the specific protections afforded    service animals under federal and state disability and housing laws,       disabled tenants are provided rights to keep comfort animals in apartment communities with no pet policies if they can provide documentation which shows that a medical professional believes that the animal is necessary for the individual’s health, use, and enjoyment of the apartment.

 What Management Should Do

Prior to accepting a service or comfort pet in an apartment community with a no pet policy, the tenant should be asked to provide proof of the disability and of the need for the animal.  The tenant is not required to      provide any particular kind of proof, but must present some evidence that an accommodation by              management is necessary.  If the animal has an official tag or license showing that it is a service animal, management can probably rely on that as evidence.  However, since comfort animals are not eligible for such tags or licenses, tenants who need a comfort animal must show it is necessary by order of a physician or mental health professional.

Interestingly and importantly, in communities where pets are allowed with a pet deposit, pet deposits should not be charged for tenants with service or comfort animals as they are not considered pets.

A landlord who receives a request to allow a service or comfort animal is best served seeking legal counsel. Each situation is unique and the ever changing law and particular tenant's circumstance may alter           management’s ultimate decision.

Should you have any questions regarding service or comfort pets or the applicable law, please do not        hesitate to contact me at (901) 576-1701.

Topics: landlords, tenants, animals, service animals, no-pets, no-pets policy, disability, management, comfort animal, medical professional, mental health professional, social interaction, reassurance, emotional benefits, pet deposit, pets, owners

Why Purchase Owner’s Title Insurance?

Posted by Matt Brinner on December 30th, 2011

A question that real estate attorneys often receive is, “why purchase owner’s title insurance?”  I, myself, would not purchase a house or any parcel of real estate without an owner’s policy of title insurance.  It is a one-time only premium that is paid when you purchase the property and protects your interest in the property against loss due to title defects, liens or other encumbrances against title for as long as you own the property and, in certain instances, even after you sell the property.  In the event of a lawsuit attacking title (i.e., someone else claiming an interest in the property, a lender or other creditor claiming that a prior loan or judgment has not been paid off, a defect in title due to a document not being properly signed, a forgery, or other event of fraud or duress, etc.), your title insurance company will defend you and pay your legal fees (which could be very costly) or reimburse you for the actual monetary loss incurred up to the dollar amount of the insurance provided by the policy (generally what you paid for the property; and, under some policies, the coverage afforded actually increases a certain percentage each year that you own the property). 

Basically, title insurance is an insurance policy which insures that, upon recording of the closing documents, title to the property will be vested in your name.  The policy insures that the property, at the time of recording, will be free from all defects, liens and encumbrances except those which are listed as exceptions in your policy or are excluded from the scope of the policy’s coverage under the standard exceptions, conditions and exclusions from coverage found in the pre-printed portion of the form policy.  This is pretty substantial coverage for the one-time premium that you pay in exchange for the policy.  

Another reason title insurance is beneficial is because, when examining title, we, as examining attorneys, only review the records for the property and the current owners which are produced by the title company as part of its title search.  This actually minimizes the cost to you because if we did not have the title company’s search to rely upon, we would have to conduct our own search of register’s office and local courts in order to give you a proper legal opinion on title, which would be much more expensive than paying for an owner’s policy of title insurance due to the additional time that would be required in order to conduct an adequate title examination.   Since our examination of your title is limited to our review of the documents submitted to us by the title company, if you choose not to purchase an owner’s policy of title insurance and a problem appears in the future that the title company’s search may have missed (which happens more often than you might believe), you would be out of luck and could end up facing serious legal fees in sorting out the mess.  In other words, as cheap as title insurance is, it is not worth the risk of not having it. 

Finally, keep in mind that all institutional lenders are going to require that you pay for lender’s coverage which insures that the lender has a first lien deed of trust against your property to protect them in the event you default.  For purposes of illustration only, let’s assume you are purchasing a house for $250,000 and obtaining a loan in the amount of $200,000 to finance the acquisition of the property.  In Shelby County, Tennessee, the lender’s base coverage alone, if you did not purchase an owner’s policy, would be approximately $801.25.  Since you can get an owner’s and lender’s policies for a simultaneous issue rate of $1,060.12, the owner’s policy, in this case, would really only be costing you about $258.87.  That is cheap for $250,000 in coverage (and possibly more depending on the policy) for as long as you own the property. 

I hope this helps in explaining the point of title insurance.  If you have any questions, feel free to call me at (901) 576-1743.

Topics: title, title insurance, real estate, premium, judgment, property, . acquisition, owner, lender, banks, financial institutions

Satellite Dishes: Landlords’ Rights to Protect vs. Tenants’ Rights to Enjoy

Posted by and Josh Kahane on December 14th, 2011

Increasingly, multi-family owners and management companies are facing issues relating to tenants who hire independent third parties to install satellite dishes on the exterior of their apartments. These    dishes provide television, phone, and internet services to the tenant.  The law seeks to balance the rights of multi-family owners and management companies to protect their properties with the tenants’ lease based contractual right to enjoy their apartments.  

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), an independent agency of the United States government which regulates all aspects of broadband media, allows multi-family owners and management companies to prohibit placement of satellite dishes in places which might potentially damage or compromise the exterior of the complex’s building, while at the same time prohibiting owners and management companies from “unreasonably” objecting to installation of “pizza-style” satellite dishes, not larger than one meter in diameter, when installed in safe and non-damaging locations.

Specifically, multi-family owners and management companies may prohibit placement of  satellite dishes on the following areas:

-  Rooftops

-  Window Sills

-  Common Use Balconies

-  Breeze-Ways

-  Stairwells

-  Exterior Walls

However, multi-family owners and management companies, may not  “unreasonably” prevent tenants from installing satellite dishes on private balconies, private patios, and private gardens, so long as, no holes are drilled in outsides walls, the roof, windows, or balcony railings.

Should you have any questions regarding the FCC regulations in specific, or satellite dishes in general, please do not hesitate to contact Josh Kahane at (901) 576-1701.





Topics: satellite dishes, tenants, multi-family, owners, management companies, apartments, home, internet, television, lease, contracts

When VIOLENCE strikes YOUR property...

Posted by Josh Kahane on December 14th, 2011

Owners and managers owe a legal duty to their tenants to provide, as much as possible, a safe place to live.  But even the most effective managers and on-site security staff, face incidences of violence involving a tenant or the invited guest of a tenant and, even more often, on-site staff in the leasing office can be    subjected to threats of violence against them or the property by disgruntled tenants.  In these circumstances, it is most important to quickly apply the protection offered under the Landlord Tenant Act to  remove the tenant from the property and ensure the safety and well-being of all other people on site.



Topics: multi-family, landlord, tenant, violence, lease, URLTA, Landlord Tenant Act, owners, management, FED, vacate