Emotional support animals (ESAs) are dogs, cats, or other animals that are brought into private or public spaces to provide companionship and comfort to individuals with disabilities. The ESA may be necessary for the individual with a disability because he or she is experiencing severe anxiety or depression that would cause extreme stress.
These animals are commonly referred to as “therapy animals” and are sometimes subject to the same laws as service animals. However, they are actually not the same thing. ESAs are not trained service animals and cannot perform tasks that are specifically trained to do. They can only provide comfort and companionship to the individual with a disability.
These animals may be allowed into housing areas, but they do not get the same protection that service animals do. Unfortunately, federal and state laws do not recognize emotional support animals as having the same “importance” as service animals, so they are not afforded the same protections. They are not protected from all extra fees, as well as eviction under certain reasons.
In addition, ESAs do not always have access to public transportation and may not be permitted in certain places where service animals can go. So, owners may be wondering what kinds of rights and responsibilities a landlord can have regarding an emotional support animal.
Can You Bring Your ESAs Home?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that landlords cannot refuse to rent to someone because they have an ESA, but they can require that an ESA meet certain conditions (e.g., being housebroken).
There is no law that requires landlords to allow emotional support animals in housing units. However, the Fair Housing Act does require landlords to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities who have an ESA and those who use a service animal. This means that landlords must allow emotional support animals into housing units if they are a reasonable accommodation and cannot freely discriminate against disabled people who require an emotional support animal.
This means that it would be illegal for a landlord to charge extra fees for an emotional support animal. However, some landlords may ask that a tenant with an ESA meet certain conditions before they are allowed to bring the animal into the rental unit.
These conditions may include that the animal can behave properly around other people, and that it not pose a threat to other tenants or to other animals in the unit. The tenant must also be willing to pay for any damage caused by the animal. In addition, landlords can also ask for proof of vaccinations and proof of proper licensing for any pet involved.
The Importance of an ESA Letter
A landlord can require that an ESA letter be presented at the time of move-in or prior to the tenant moving in. This letter can state that the tenant with an ESA has been diagnosed with a legitimate illness or a disability. The letter must also state that the ESA will provide assistance to the tenant.
This letter must be signed by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). In addition, they have to be renewed yearly for it to remain valid.
KimKim is a talented author, who loves animals especially dogs. She engaged in writing books and articles relating to animals a decade ago. Kim resides in Chicago with her husband and son. The family is the proud owner of a dog and a parrot (Jack and Lily). Kim wanted more than these two pets, but her husband put his foot down... She often visits elementary schools to talk to the kids about what she learned about pets and how they could learn from them.
Review symptoms, medications & behavior to keep your pets healthy with a Vet Online in just minutes.Ask a Vet Live Now