New Service Animal Laws - What You Need to Know as a Landlord
Effective date: January 2019
Service animals are either dogs or miniature horses that are trained to do work or perform tasks related to an owner's disability.
Under Washington Law. Service animals are not "emotional support animals" or "companion animals." Examples: Service animals guide blind people, or help hearing disabled. Some service animals may be specially trained to help with psychiatric issues. If they are not specially trained, then they are a companion and do not fall under "service animal."
Under FHA: A Service animal is an animal that is a necessary reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability. Emotional support animals and comfort animals ARE included in the HUD definition and are allowed into a person's dwelling.
A person who misrepresents an animal as a service animal may have to pay a $500.00 fine and can be removed from a place of public accommodation.
You can ask if they are specially trained and whether that's connected to the tenant's disability. You cannot ask for a demonstration of the dog or elaboration on the disability. In other words, the dog is a reasonable accommodation (waiver of pet fee) because the dog is required due to the disability. I don't know of any specific paperwork, but a doctor's letter would certainly suffice or some licensed medical provider. Remember, in Washington State disability is very broadly defined.
If the animal is a dog guide or service animal then no pet deposit or pet rent is due from tenant (WAC 162-38-100). This is because they are legally defined as not a pet. Tenants with a disability using a dog guide or service animal can be held responsible for the nonrefundable cleaning fee and still bears liability for damage caused by tenant's animal (but use your discretion on that one). Though you cannot charge a pet deposit or fee for guide dogs or service animals, they still have to comply with all pet related rules and guidelines of the city, state, and community.