Can a Landlord Deny Your Emotional Support Dog?

An emotional support animal helps its keeper cope more effectively with various cognitive infirmities and diseases. ESA is recognized as an effective ministration for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and other non-physical conditions. Contrasted to service animal rights, ESA rights are narrowed to housing. Nevertheless, it is crucial to know all the specifics of living with emotional support animals to avoid violating your rights. Not all licensees are willing to tolerate pets in their places, even if there are good reasons to do so. Therefore, in this article, you will learn when a landowner has the permissible right to dismiss you and an emotional support animal.

Housing laws

esa in appartment

Americans with physical or mental impairment requiring the succor of a special animal can live with your helper. The federal Fair Housing Act applies to both service animals and emotional support animals. According to this statute, the ESA is considered an assistance animal, which means they can dwell with their holders without auxiliary payment.

However, if the animal holder displays an authenticated ESA letter confirming the status of his companion, the landlord has a clearly defined right to refuse accommodation. Although ESAs do not necessitate extra registration, many ESA keepers prefer to issue an Emotional Support Animal ID card. It is a supplemental optional confirmation of the animal’s special status that often helps avoid misunderstandings and conflicts and does not require you to always have the original doctor’s letter with you.

Register your animal
SERVICE DOG
registration
$45
ID card & online registration
SERVICE DOG
Online registration
$26
Only online registration
EMOTIONAL
SUPPORT ANIMAL
Registration
$45
ID card & online registration
EMOTIONAL
SUPPORT ANIMAL
Online registration
$26
Only online registration
THERAPY ANIMAL
Registration
$42
ID card & online registration
THERAPY ANIMAL
Registration
$24
Only online registration

What is considered a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act?

The FHA explicitly states that landlords are obliged to dispense accommodation for humans with psychological or physiological afflictions and their animals. If you have a licit ESA doctor’s letter that authenticates your companion’s special status, you can make a reasonable accommodation request to your housing provider. In most cases, the landlord should grant your request unless there are valid reasons to refuse.

A reasonable accommodation involves changing house jurisdiction so the emotional support animal can live with its owner. The asking can be submitted both orally and in writing. However, it is best to have a document corroborating that the landlord has allowed the dwelling of the ESA. In addition, in a written request, you can specify the set-up under which the animal will live in housing to preserve yourself in the future.

Reasons why your landlord can ban emotional support animals

The landlord must have good grounds to reject your request and deny an emotional support animal. A refusal cannot be based on the animal’s species and breed. In addition, the dwelling provider cannot refuse you because of their own dislike for the animal. The refusal must be reasoned and supported by real evidence. Otherwise, it will be considered discrimination and a violation of state law.

Here are a few reasons why a landlord can legally refuse ESA habitation:

  • If your ESA causes financial strain on the landlord

Property owners generally need repairs to keep their houses safe from any accidents. If the animal regularly damages the landlord’s belongings, you may be denied housing for the ESA. If damage has occurred, you can independently compensate for the damage for repair work. However, if such situations arise regularly, it will cause weighty inconvenience to the housing provider and other residents. Therefore, keeping an eye on your companion and staving off damage to the rented property is important.

  • Health reasons

In addition, the landlord has the right to refuse to provide housing for the ESA if this may jeopardize other residents. If people with allergies, asthma or other respiratory diseases live in the building, the animal can aggravate their condition. In this case, the licensee must provide proof of the residence of tenants with these diseases. In some cases, it is possible to restrict the animal’s access to the common areas of the building. However, most often, the landlord will be forced to refuse you to avoid harming other tenants.

  • If your ESA causes trouble or threatens the safety of your neighbors

Moreover, emotional support animals must not pose a direct threat to other tenants. This means that the animal must not be belligerent and must not growl, bark, or bite other animals or people. Although purpose-built preparation isn’t mandatory for ESAs, it is principal that your companion is disciplined and obedient.

In addition, the animal must have certificates from a veterinarian confirming the absence of diseases and parasites. Your ESA must be vaccinated, as the landlord has the right to ask for these documents. Besides, the animal must look well-groomed, so we recommend regular visits to the groomer.

  • If the ESA letter you present is Illegitimate

The presence of an accepted emotional support animal letter is mandatory for deriving a residence permit with the ESA. The official document must be issued by a licensed mental health professional or other specialist qualified in emotional support animals. The ESA letter must be signed on official letterhead and contain information about the specialist who issued it.

The document contains proof that you have mental or emotional dysfunctions that entail an emotional support animal to treat. Besides, the letter must contain information about the animal, the date it was distributed, and the expiration date. The ESA letter is in force for one year from the date of issue, so it is important to keep it up to date in order to be able to continue living with your companion.

Falsifying an ESA letter violates US law and is subject to disciplinary action. In this case, the owner of the animal, who demonstrated the false document, as well as the person who issued it, are considered violators. In addition, providing incorrect information to a therapist to obtain a document for the animal is also regarded as a violation. You can also get an ESA letter online, but it’s important to choose reliable services.

  • If the ESA is too big for the available accommodation

For a comfortable life for the animal, it is important to have enough free space. Therefore, despite the fact that the animal’s size cannot be the reason for refusal, there are some nuances. This is to a large extent true for large breed dogs like Labradors and Retrievers. These are active animals of large size, for which the presence of free space at home is a must. Therefore, if the lessor cannot supply you with housing large enough for you and your companion, he is forced to refuse you. However, the proprietor must provide proof showing that there are no other dwellings of the suitable size to rent.

ESA and housing restrictions

According to the FHA, Emotional Support Animals are not pets, so the general housing rules do not apply to them. For example, for ESA, there are no restrictions regarding the type of animal. Therefore, you can choose as a companion any animal that brings you solace and joy and that you can take good care of. Landlords cannot impose their restrictions on the type or breed of animal. However, it is best to choose common pets like dogs, cats, or rodents as ESAs. Snakes and spiders can also act as ESAs, but these creatures can be dangerous to other building occupants.Some of ESA pets

In addition, the housing provider cannot restrict the animal’s movement or prevent you from using the building’s public areas. However, it would help if you abode by the rules for living in rented accommodation. Firstly, it concerns the noise that may disturb other residents. Secondly, it is necessary to clean up after your companion promptly. Living an animal in a building should not bring any of the parties. The responsibility lies with the owners of the ESA, and failure to comply with the rules may threaten the forced eviction of you and the animal.

You can find more in our article Renting an Apartment with an Emotional Support Animal.

Fees for emotional support animals

The landlord does not have the right to demand a pet fee to accommodate emotional support animals. According to the FHA, ESAs are not pets, so they have special housing privileges. In addition, making a deposit for an animal is also optional. However, this can be a compromise solution in some cases. If the animal causes destruction to the property of the landlord, this deposit will be used to pay for the damage, but if such a need does not arise, the proprietor will return the deposit to you when you move out.

What to do if your landlord rejects your ESA?

ESA dog near house

If a housing provider has denied your reasonable accommodation request to have an emotional support animal, you first need to find out the reasons for the denial. Ask the landlord to explain their position and provide facts and evidence to support it. If the proprietor cannot do this, then denial of residence with the ESA is a violation of your rights. In addition, the reasons for refusal must be objective.

Contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development if you feel your rights have been violated. There you can file a complaint about the misconduct of the landlord. The complaint must be accompanied by an ESA letter, which guarantees you the opportunity to live with emotional support animals.

Usually, complaints are considered within 10 working days. During this time, the department will analyze whether the landlord’s actions can be regarded as discrimination and send you their decision. If the housing provider is found guilty, they will be bounded to provide a dwelling place for you and your companion. In addition, in some cases, the obligation to pay a fine and compensation for non-pecuniary damage is also possible.

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