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Support-Animal Fraud

Landlords and support animals – what a topic!

Staff in public transportation companies and housing rental offices are increasingly finding themselves challenged to sort through which types of service or support animals must be allowed by law. According to these companies, some individuals are cheating by introducing ordinary pets as doctor-prescribed “emotional support” animals in order to bring them into housing where pets are banned or to avoid fees such as pet deposits, pet rent or travel costs.

“I can’t go 30 minutes any time I’m around landlords without someone bringing up assistance animals,” said Paul Smith, executive director of the Utah Apartment Association, which advocates for landlords. “That’s the No. 1 issue for landlords. Landlords want to accommodate people with disability, but want to cut down on fraud.”

To legally gain accommodation for an emotional support animal requires an “impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,” Smith said. “In addition, the animal has to be a medical necessity — it’s not just that having a cat makes me happy. Having the cat treats the medical condition. Our frustration is not that we don’t think there are people who genuinely need one. But under that definition, the animal has to be a medical necessity. We don’t think that definition is met most of the time.”

Landlords know that anyone can go online and buy a letter that “prescribes” an emotional support animal. The Deseret News set out to test how easy it was to obtain such a letter, and within a couple of hours had two in hand from separate sources — each for under $100 and each documenting the “need” for an emotional support animal. That ease of providing so-called proof, coupled with what Smith describes as a dramatic increase in renters saying they “must” have an emotional support animal, has fueled skepticism that could make it harder for those who really need emotional support animals to have them.

While landlords must trust that a letter from a doctor is valid, it’s an issue made more complicated by what Smith calls “online certification mills,” which sell letters prescribing an emotional support animal for a fee, no therapy needed.

The Deseret News decided to see how hard it would be to get an emotional support animal letter online without having a particular need (or even owning an animal). Reporter Erica Evans went after the cheapest option she could find easily: a website which offers airline and housing recommendation forms for $79.

The website advertises “Live and fly with your pet legally and hassle free,” and boasts 30,000 happy customers nationwide. She started filling out the form, but got interrupted after inputting only basic information, including her name and phone number. No worries; within a half hour the company called her, though she hadn’t completed the online intake.

(more…)

Softer 2019

More homes are for sale this year, which is helping to keep a cap on pricing.  The rent increases are subsiding too – San Diego has cooled off more than any other major metro area dropping from 4% to 2% this year (see above).

Less pressure on buyers means sellers should try harder.

Spruce up your home, price it attractively, and hire a great realtor!

Link to CoreLogic article

Joe’s House

The one-story ranch houses with detached granny flats are their own category now, and buyers are paying prices that don’t compare to other regular homes.

This was taped in July when nobody wanted to have anything to do with it.

The seller, Joe Walsh’s ex-wife, hired a new agent in 2019, raised the price, and sold it the first week on the market. It just closed for $2,800,000 cash.

The agent put Joe’s name in the remarks – did it help propel the sale?

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