What to Do if Your Landlord Does Not Accept Your Emotional Support Animal
When seeking rented accommodation, it is not uncommon to find that landlords or housing providers have imposed a ‘no pets’ policy as part of their agreement. This is usually due to many factors such as noise, potential damage to their property, or simply due to insurance restrictions. While the majority of renters have to abide by this policy, there are some situations where individuals are allowed to keep animals in accommodation where a ‘no pet’ policy is imposed.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that disabled persons may live in accommodation with their service animals, even where pets are not usually allowed. This is because service animals are extremely well behaved due to their extensive training, and are not considered as pets. As emotional support animals are prescribed to individuals as a therapeutic treatment for their psychological disorders, some landlords will allow them to live with their owners despite a ‘no pet’ policy, but they are not always obliged to, and will not always allow this. So what can you do if your landlord does not accept your emotional support animal?
Emotional Support Animals Do Not Have the Same Rights as Service Animals
Animals have long been used to medically assist humans with various needs, such as a service dog to aid a blind or visually impaired person with navigation and protection, or an emotional support animal to provide affection and companionship as part of a treatment plan for anxiety issues. These animals both provide a similar service, but are not regarded equally in the eyes of the law.
Service animals are trained specifically to assist with an individual’s disability and are recognized by the ADA. Emotional support animals, however, are not ADA approved animals and therefore are not exempt from certain restrictions such as access to public places or private establishments in the same way that service animals are.
While applying to rent private accommodation with a ‘no pets’ policy can be a relatively straightforward process for owners of service animals due to the ADA, the same process can be a little more tricky for people with emotional support animals. Not to worry though! The Fair Housing Act protects owners of emotional support animals to live with their ESA in most housing situations.
Some landlords may be okay with Emotional Support Animals, and some might not
Because landlords are not obliged to accept emotional support animals when processing your application in the same way they have to with service dogs, you may have to accept that some accommodation may be off limits to you if you do not have documentation or an ESA letter from a licensed therapist.
Whether you already have an emotional support animal and are seeking new accommodation, or already live in accommodation with a ‘no pet’ policy and have been assigned an emotional support animal, you may face a few barriers regarding your application. Please continue reading to find out how to protect yourself from uninformed landlords.
What to do if my Landlord says “NO” to my Emotional Support Animal?
If you provide the correct documentation from a licensed therapist and your landlord is still insistent about not allowing your ESA, you have a few options.
- You can contact the HUD and file a complaint
- You can contact a lawyer and have them write a strongly worded letter to your landlord
- You can contact an ESA advocate that will point you in the right direction
All hope is not lost thanks to the Fair Housing Act (FHA)
When can apartments not allow my emotional support animal? There are certain circumstances where landlords are not obliged to accept Emotional Support Animals, such as:
- Buildings that have four or fewer dwellings of which the landlord is the occupant of one
- Single family accommodation rented or sold without a real estate broker
Thankfully, an accommodation that does not fall under these categories are not imposed by such restrictions and must consider all service animal or emotional support animal applications.
While service animals are looked upon more favorably in these circumstances, the fact that emotional support animals are technically not pets goes a long way when a landlord processes your application.
Should your landlord decide not to accept your emotional support animal, and if your accommodation doesn’t come under one of the above categories, then you should provide them with a letter from a licenced mental health professional, which, under the Fair Housing Act, should be sufficient proof of your need for an emotional support animal for your application.
If for any reason you are unable to obtain a letter from a licensed mental health professional, there are many services available to provide sufficient proof after a successful assessment. One such service is ESA Doctors who can determine your eligibility for an emotional support animal.
Although applying for an apartment is usually a straightforward process for individuals with emotional support animals, without the need to jump through hoops to be allowed to live with their animal, sometimes the process can be a little trickier than it ought to be. By providing a letter from a licensed mental health professional such as your psychologist, therapist or psychiatrist which verifies your need for an ESA, you should have little problem making a successful application under the Fair Housing Act.