Notes From the Legal Hotline: July 2023

June 30, 2023

- By The MAR Legal Team

Q: A tenant provided the landlord with a document stating that their dog is a registered service animal. Is this legitimate?

A: It is unlikely that this document will aid a tenant in obtaining a reasonable accommodation to allow for their dog. While many online sites offer certificates, licenses, or other registration documents stating that an animal is a service animal, no such registration, licensing, or certification process exists under the law.

The Fair Housing Act allows for a landlord to request reliable documentation from a tenant when a reasonable accommodation is requested and the disability and/or disability-related need for the animal is not obvious or is otherwise unknown. HUD has specifically noted that such documentation from the internet is generally insufficient to satisfy the reliable documentation requirement. It is important to note that this does not disqualify reliable documentation provided by a health care professional who provides remote services.

Detailed information on analyzing a request for a reasonable accommodation for an assistance animal may be found here.

Q: Does a seller have to formally reject an offer?

A: No, a seller is not obligated to formally reject an offer. When a buyer submits an offer, such as the MAR Contract to Purchase, there is a provision that states the duration of the buyer’s offer. If the seller fails to accept the offer by the date and time noted, this is treated as a de facto rejection and no further action is required by either party. Once the offer window set by the buyer lapses, the offer is no longer open for acceptance. While many times a buyer wants the seller to formally reject the offer in writing, there is no legal requirement to do so.

Standard of Practice 1-7 in the Code of Ethics does allow for a cooperating broker to submit a written request to the listing agent, if that agent is a REALTOR®, seeking confirmation that their client’s offer was submitted to the seller or that the seller waived the obligation to have the offer presented. While this does not place an obligation on the seller, or provide a formal rejection, it does aid in providing the buyer with some piece of mind.


Written by: Justin Davidson, General Counsel; Catherine Taylor, Associate Counsel; Jonathan Schreiber, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel; and Kate Berard, Associate Counsel.

Services provided through the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®, by providing this service, assumes no actual or implied responsibility for any improper use of responses to questions through this service.  The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® will not be legally responsible for any potential misrepresentations or errors made by providing this service. For more information regarding these topics authorized callers should contact the MAR legal hotline at 800-370-5342 or e-mail at