Zona Properties, Inc. | P.O. Box 17937, Rochester, NY, 14617
Email: dick.zona@zonaproperties.com | Phone: (585) 506-9430

Allowing Service dogs in your property

Posted on: June 4th, 2015 by zonaprop

I believe everyone knows the importance of adhering to all laws relating to discrimination of any kind in housing. Very often the question of allowing service animals in your rental when your policy is ‘no pets’ is one that I have found some landlords don’t fully understand. First, below is the definition of a service animal as stated by the federal government:

    “Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA

I ran across a case several years ago that enlightened my knowledge on this law. We had a prospective tenant apply for one of our apartments where we had a ‘no pets’ policy in place and that had a ‘companion’ dog. We asked if the dog had training in being a service dog (the answer was no), we asked how long the applicant had the dog (1 month). We asked the type and size of the dog (50 lb. pitbull). Based on our knowledge of the ADA law (Americans with Disabilities Act) we denied her application. This was based on our policy of no pets along with the knowledge that insurance companies very often cancel the landlord’s policy based on the presence of certain breeds of dogs (pitbulls, German Shepherds etc.). I very promptly received a letter from an attorney (not always a pleasant experience) stating that while we may not have been discriminating against the applicant based on the ADA, we were discriminating against her based on the Fair Housing Act. See the following explanation from Wikipedia:

    While the ADA has narrowed the definition of service animals that are required to be permitted in places of public accommodation, other laws still provide broader definitions in other areas. For instance, the Department of Transportation’s regulations enacting the Air Carrier Access Act permit “dogs and other service animals” to accompany passengers on commercial airlines.[4] The Fair Housing Act also requires housing providers to permit service animals (including comfort and emotional support animals) without species restrictions in housing.

Based on our ‘new found’ understanding of the law (and prodding from the attorney) we reversed our decision. It is always wise to consult with your legal counsel before making a decision such as the above.

Purchasing Investment Properties in the Rochester NY area

Posted on: June 4th, 2015 by zonaprop

The greater Monroe County area of New York of which the City of Rochester is the centerpiece, is a great place to live and bring up a family. It is located on Lake Ontario, has a very stable economy (home to Eastman Kodak, Bausch & Lomb and Xerox among others) and has been found of late, because of its affordable housing stock, a great place to invest your money. Enough of my public service announcement, for further information you can contact the visitors’ bureau website at www.visitrochester.com

The city of Rochester is a city where you can buy a single family home for as little as $20,000 and expect a monthly income of at least $550/month or a 2 family property for $30,000 which brings in a monthly income of at least $800-900/month. I receive calls from investors all over the country (and outside of it) asking how this is possible. As someone that was born and raised in the area all of my life I (and other Rochester residents) ask how is possible that you pay $300,000 and above for a 1200 sq.’ 2 bedroom house in your area? To us this is insane. I guess the only thing to say is Se La’vi. I can’t speak for your area but my thoughts on Rochester are related to a steady (but small) appreciation of homes in the city. The suburbs, both east and west of the city, have had a higher appreciation but not in any way like some areas of the country such as California etc. The area is still what most people consider a ‘white collar’ type of town with three of the major corporations in the world (see above) founded here and with two of the three still maintaining their world headquarters in the city. Even though all of them have gone through a major downsizing in the past several years, the people that have been laid off have been absorbed into the local economy in the many startup companies in the area.

A major part of the housing stock in the city was built from 1900 – 1925. Dealing with older homes has the typical problems relating to maintenance & obsolescence. Properties in the lower price range ($10,000 – $60,000) usually are in areas of the city that have a higher concentration of low income tenants and sometimes a greater percentage of crime and problems related to crime. When looking at this price range of property an investor has to take into consideration extra costs related to repairs, turnover, improvements etc. It is not that these items don’t exist in higher priced homes but through experience, properties in these areas tend to have an increased amount of these types of expenses. There is always exceptions to these rules but as a realtor friend expresses to many of his clients, it is the old adage “pay me now or pay me later” concept. You might be able to purchase low but down the road you could have more expenses and losses that affect the bottom line. Hiring a good property manager will help, but even a good property manager can’t change the circumstances of the neighborhood or all outside forces that affect rentability