Can my Landlord Refuse my Request to Accommodate my Emotional Support Animal?
If your lease prohibits pets, a landlord can initially refuse to allow a tenant to have a pet. Thanks to current ESA laws, you have the right to ask your landlord to allow a pet on the premises.While it would be clear that a landlord is discriminating against a tenant if they do not allow a blind person to own a service animal. But when it comes to an emotional support animal, it can be a little more difficult. However, the ESA laws protect you from owning an animal.
When you ask your landlord to have a pet based on your disability, this is as a “request for a reasonable accommodation.” Your request must be reasonable. This means that you need to have a certified disability and request to have a domesticated animal added to your lease.
It may also be unreasonable for you to get a large, untrained, and vicious dog to be your emotional support dog. It is possible that the landlord may be liable if the dog were to bite someone in the building.
When you request to add an ESA to your lease, you will need to prove to the landlord that you have a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The landlord can ask to show an ESA certification for your animal. After, ask your doctor for a written letter describing your disability and the benefits of owning an ESA.
Can my Landlord Charge me an Extra Fee for my Emotional Support Animal?
No. According to the Fair Housing Act of 1988 (FHA), apartment and housing communities cannot deny housing based on their disability.
The benefits of the FHA laws include the fact that property owners are not allowed to charge an advance deposit or fees for ESAs. If the animal causes significant damage, or an owner is neglecting the animal, the property owner is able to recoup fees at a later time.
The FHA laws protect an emotional support animal owner if their disability is diagnosed by a certified professional. They must also provide documentation to the property owner or housing representative.
Property owners or landlords cannot:
- Question the disability
- Require that the animal wear identification as an emotional support animal
- Refuse housing
The FHA laws protect all verified ESA owners who properly care for the animal, but may not protect the owners who are destructive or negligent.
So what are a landlord’s rights in this type of situation? To avoid abuse of the system, landlords need a letter from the tenant’s doctor explaining the tenant’s disability and the ESA will help.
Under federal law, a landlord does not have to permit emotional support animals for everyone who has a mental illness. An ESA is only for those with a disability and have a mental illness. The mental illness must be, in some way, directly related to the disability. These laws could vary from state to state.