Navigating the rental landscape with a service animal can be stressful. Tenants often ask themselves: “Do I have to pay a fee for an assistance dog? And “Can my landlord evict me if I have an ASE?”“. Well if you have an emotional support animal you have the right to reasonable accommodation – even if you are looking for a place with a no pets policy. Here’s what you need to know about renting with an emotional support animal.
Reasonable adaptations and emotional support animals
If you have an emotional support animal, you are covered by the Fair Housing Act, or FHA. Owners must make what is called “reasonable accommodation” under the FHA to allow animals to serve as service animals. This includes animals that provide emotional support.
Service animals do not have the same classification as ordinary pets, legally speaking. Service animals can either perform physical tasks (such as with a guide dog) or provide emotional support to improve symptoms of a disability.
Almost any type of animal can be considered a service animal. Service animals provide companionship and relieve loneliness, and they can help with anxiety, depression, and some phobias. Service animals do not have special training to perform tasks like a service animal would, but the emotional benefits they provide to their owner, coupled with a letter from a therapist or doctor. , classify the animal as a service animal.
Can my owner charge me for an emotional support animal?
It depends on the type of load you are talking about. According to federal fair housing laws, any emotional support animal should be exempt from pet fees. Emotional support animals should also have access to housing with animal-free policies. A letter from ESA from a licensed and legitimate healthcare professional declares that you need your support animal for your disability and that you are eligible for FHA.
However, there are some things your landlord can charge you, even if your pet is legally considered an emotional support animal. They may require a pet deposit in order to rent. Your landlord may also seek compensation if your pet causes damage to the unit you are renting. If a support animal becomes a nuisance, owners have the right to take legal action to remove the animal.
If you believe that you and your emotional support animal are experiencing discrimination, you also have the right to file a complaint with HUD (the Department of Housing and Urban Development). They will then investigate your case.
Talk to your landlord About your ESA
You should discuss the possibility of having an emotional support animal with your owner to make sure everyone is on the same page. Keep in mind that landlords cannot interview their potential tenants about any type of disability through the FHA. That said, they may ask you to provide written certification if you are requesting reasonable accommodation for an emotional support animal (or any service or assistance animal). The certification will need to show that you have a disability, that you need the support animal to help you with your disability and explain how the animal helps improve your symptoms.
Talking with an owner can be stressful. Owners may not be aware of the laws regarding emotional support animals, or in the worst-case scenario, try to ask probing questions or seek sensitive medical information. Knowing your rights before starting the conversation will help you get the accommodations you need and deserve. If you’re feeling rushed by questions that make you uncomfortable, you’re absolutely right if you’re asking the landlord to email their questions and / or let them know they should see a lawyer. because it is illegal to find out about your disability.
Can an owner legally reject an emotional support animal?
Your landlord can’t kick you out because you have an emotional support animal – that’s a blatant violation of FHA rules. You must also follow certain regulations. For example, you should seek reasonable accommodation before bringing an emotional support animal into your accommodation.
An owner also cannot legally reject an emotional support animal because of its age. However, you are responsible for any damage your pet does, so keep that in mind if your emotional support pet is more likely to cause property damage, such as a young puppy.
There are also certain situations where an owner can legally reject an emotional support animal, including:
- If a building has four units or less and the owner also lives in one of the buildings.
- If you are renting a single family home without a real estate agent; the owner must also own less than three single family homes.
- If the animal causes undue financial hardship to the owner.
- If your pet causes damage or damage to others or to their property.
- If your pet is too big for the accommodation you want to rent. For example, you will not be allowed to bring a horse to a small studio.
Knowing your rights will allow you to have a conversation with your owner about your emotional support animal. Search thousands of pet-friendly apartments on Zumper and find your new home with your furry friend.