Notes From the Field: Recent Legal Helpdesk Questions

Notes From the Field: Recent Legal Helpdesk Questions

There’s an old saying that if you have a question, someone else out there is probably wondering the same thing. So, in the spirit of sharing knowledge, AAR has reproduced a few recent Legal Helpdesk questions below. If they spark further questions, feel free to contact us

Q1: Do I have to waive my pet deposit policy if a person with a service animal requests a waiver as a reasonable accommodation? What if the animal damages my unit?

A1: Yes, if a person with a service animal requests a waiver of a pet deposit policy as a reasonable accommodation for their disability, it should be granted. But that doesn’t mean you have to bear the cost if the animal damages the unit. A best practice is to have a clause in your lease agreements that the cost of any repairs for damage, above normal wear and tear, caused by service animals will be the responsibility of the tenant. The Animal Agreement Exhibit (RF 3.2) offered on AAR’s Legal Forms webpage contains such a damage clause.

Q2: If I want to sell a property listed in an MLS which I am not a member of, can I have a brokerage compensation agreement in place?

A2: Not only can you, but this is a best practice that we absolutely recommend! When you work with a property and are not a member of the MLS it is listed in, you are not protected by that MLS’ compensation rules. So, the best way to ensure that you receive compensation is to have a written compensation agreement in place. An attorney can provide you with a standard brokerage compensation agreement form.

Q3: If a homeowner refuses to sell their home to a particular buyer because that buyer is a family member of the homeowner, is that a violation of the Fair Housing Act?

A3: No. Although federal laws and the NAR Code of Ethics do protect against discrimination based on familial status, the protection is against discrimination based on a person’s familial composition (i.e., childless, family with children, single parent, etc.), not against discrimination based on intra-familial relations.