Emotional support animal (ESA) is often confused with pets. ESA serves a medical purpose by curbing the symptoms or effects of a patient’s emotional disorder. When a person with an ESA is looking for housing options, he/she can’t be denied housing in apartments which have no-pets policy. An ESA letter can be helpful in bringing home your emotional support animal.
Bypassing the No-pets policy:
Many landlords include a clause in the lease agreement stating that pets or certain type of pets aren’t allowed in the premises. The document implies that the corresponding apartment tenants are restricted from having pets. Upon violation residents face eviction legally as per clause lease agreement.
Since ESAs aren’t technically pets you may have questions like ‘Can a landlord refuse an emotional support animal? No! The no-pets policy doesn’t apply to ESA owners. The companionship provided by the pets helps their owners in their emotional disabilities. ESAs can be dogs, cats, fish, birds, lizards etc.
If you are facing housing issues due to landlords refusing to provide accommodation because of your ESA, reach out to ‘Support Pets’. They will educate you about ESA owner housing rights and ease the house-hunting process by preparing the necessary documentation.
Steps to acquire housing benefits for ESA owners:
Landlords who follow a no-pets policy cannot deny a tenant in bringing their ESA if they hold an ESA letter. An ESA owner must obtain a letter from a licensed mental health practitioner confirming the need of an ESA and you are good to go. A house owner cannot ask for more proof on your health condition or charge additional fee for your ESA.
Potential reasons a landlord can deny ESA’s: Landlords are exempt from accommodating ESA under the following circumstances:
- If the building has 4 or less units one of which is occupied by the owner
- If the animal is too large – Horse
- If the ESA cause financial hardship to the house owner
- If the animal poses threat or incurs damage to the other tenants
- If the tenant doesn’t meet other qualifying terms like having an income of twice the house rent
Some landlords aren’t aware of ESA law in which case you may be required to spell it out to them. If he/she continues to deny accommodation, ask them for a formal letter reflecting their rejection. You can then inform them that you are filing a complaint with the HUD for discriminating your emotional disability which would shift things your way.