Emotional support animals are defined as dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, monkeys, or other animals that provide emotional support to people with disabilities. They provide comfort and can lessen the symptoms of many mental and physical disorders. The law requires that they be kept under the control of their owner, who must have a doctor’s note that confirms the need for an emotional support animal. Emotional support animals must not be disruptive to others, nor can they be dangerous or a threat to the safety of others.
They are not service animals, unlike what many may think. Service animals are dogs that perform specific tasks for their owners, like guide dogs for the blind or hearing dogs for the deaf. They are trained to perform specific tasks and are specifically trained to perform them. Service animals must be identified by a vest or harness. Emotional support animals, in contrast, are not trained and do not require specific certification aside from a letter by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). This is because they simply provide emotional comfort to their owners.
As they are not the same as service animals, the laws that govern them can also differ. If you’re an owner of an emotional support animal, you may be wondering what rights your pet has regarding housing laws. The following information will help you understand how your emotional support animal may affect your apartment’s rental costs.
Are Emotional Support Animals Allowed in Apartments?
Emotional Support Animals do not qualify as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). So, you may wonder whether you can have an emotional support animal in your apartment. The answer is that yes, under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), you have the right to keep your emotional support animal with you, sometimes even in buildings with a no-pet policy. However, you should be aware of the laws that regulate emotional support animals in apartments.
When it comes to rental properties, the rental agreement will always set out the terms of what the landlord can and cannot do regarding pets. Under the FHA, landlords must decide what counts as “reasonable accommodation” to make their rental property pet-friendly.
However, for this law to be applicable to you and your pet, you’d need to make sure your pet is acknowledged as an emotional support animal. Doing so requires you to have an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional. This prevents any regular pet owner from claiming that their pet is an emotional support animal even though this is not the truth. Not having the right documentation can have serious consequences for your pet, including being evicted from the property.
When Landlords Can Deny You and Your ESA Access
The law requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations for emotional support animals if doing so does not pose a threat to the health or safety of others. As you will be responsible for the cost of maintaining your emotional support animal, it is important to make sure you have the right documentation to prove your pet is an ESA. If your landlord believes that your ESA is not legitimate, they may try to evict you and your pet.
TomTom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!
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