If you’ve already figured out how to qualify for an emotional support animal and have received your ESA letter, you might think that the hard part is over. Unfortunately, even with legitimate emotional support animal registration, you may encounter situations that might threaten your ability to have your ESA by your side.
If you’re planning on moving to a new apartment or you want to ensure your ESA will be allowed in your existing unit, it helps to understand what extended tenancy rights apply to you. Realistically, many landlords and property managers may not even be familiar with what’s permitted under the law. That’s why it’s important to educate yourself so that your rights will be protected.
Housing Laws Surrounding ESA Ownership
Landlords are allowed to have a no-pets policy for a given property included in the lease. However, the Federal Fair Housing Act outlaws discrimination towards people with disabilities in housing-related matters. In other words, a landlord cannot discriminate against you because of your diagnosed disability and must make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
For example: if you have post-traumatic stress disorder (a condition that affects 7.7 million adults in the United States), you may have already learned how to qualify for an emotional support animal. By law, your landlord is not allowed to deny you housing due to the fact that you own an ESA. Because your dog or cat will not present any type of hardship to the landlord, they must allow admittance to your ESA.
Some landlords may not be familiar with the full extent of housing laws as they pertain to this situation. They might ask to see your medical records or medical history as proof that you have a legitimate need for your ESA. However, this is actually an illegal practice. You do not have to disclose any information about your disability or present your landlord with any medical information. You may need to provide your landlord with a copy of your ESA letter. Keep in mind that your landlord is not allowed to charge a pet deposit for your ESA, nor are they allowed to deny your ESA based on its breed (unless the animal itself poses a threat to others or the animal would cause the landlord’s insurance provider to cancel their policy).
How to Talk to Your Landlord About Your ESA
Learning how to qualify for an emotional support animal may feel less intimidating than having to talk to your landlord about your ESA. Usually, having a personal conversation pertaining to your need for an ESA will work best. You do not necessarily need to disclose your need for an ESA prior to signing your lease, as this could make it more likely for your landlord to discriminate against you. Instead, you can let them know after the lease has been signed and provide them with your ESA letter to show your animal provides the necessary support for your disability. If possible, sit down with your landlord and work out any necessary accommodations. Once agreements have been reached, you should write up any changes and have both you and your landlord sign them.
If you have already qualified for an ESA, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be nothing but smooth sailing. While most landlords will have a good working knowledge of fair housing laws and will ensure that tenants with disabilities are accommodated, there’s no guarantee that your landlord will be thrilled about your ESA. Still, the law is on your side — you’ll just need to be familiar with your rights in order to enforce them.