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A lot of people who rent (or are planning to rent) their homes are keen to avail of emotional support animal treatment – particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns have created a spike in mental health issues amongst Americans. Pandemic-induced stress, loneliness and lack of social contact have led to more people than ever suffering from depression, anxiety, insomnia, and various other conditions. ESAs provide uplifting company and companionship and are very effective at alleviating the symptoms of these mental health conditions.

But what are the rights of emotional support animals owners who rent? And what are the rights of landlords who rent to people who own ESAs? Do private landlords have to allow emotional support animals? Can a private landlord refuse pets? Do all landlords have to accept emotional support animals? Do I have to tell my private landlord I have an emotional support animal?

Below, we’ll answer these important questions and more. 

Emotional Support Animal Owners Are Renting More Than Ever

More people are renting their homes in the United States now than ever before. At the time of writing in 2021, 40% of household heads in the US are renting. There are also more people availing of ESA treatment than ever. This means a lot of emotional support pet owners are people who rent their homes.

small esa dog in rental house
Image by Jorge Gardner on Unsplash: Do all landlords have to accept emotional support animals?

The Benefits Of Living With Your ESA

Living with an emotional support animal in rented accommodation has a lot of benefits. ESAs treat the symptoms of several debilitating mental health conditions. The most common conditions that people treat with an ESA are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • OCD
  • Phobias
  • Loneliness
  • Insomnia

Which Federal Laws Cover Renting With Your Emotional Support Pet?

The federal laws that deal with renters’ and landlords’ rights when it comes to emotional support animals are:

  • The Fair Housing Act (FHA)
  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

Do Private Landlords Have To Allow Emotional Support Animals?

Private landlords have to allow emotional support animals when the animals in question meet certain criteria. In the Fair Housing Act, people with mental health conditions have to be granted “reasonable accommodations” when renting. An ESA is considered to be a reasonable accommodation.

Private Landlord Rights And ESAs

So can a private landlord refuse pets, and under what circumstances? The FHA defines an ESA as a “small, domesticated animal that is typically kept in a home as a pet”. This means that if an ESA does not fit this definition, a landlord can refuse it.

A landlord can also refuse an ESA, whatever species it is, if it is overly loud, badly behaved, dangerous, or causing a nuisance to other residents. Another reason for refusal is if the landlord and their family live in the same building as the rental property and a member of the landlord’s family has an allergy to the ESA in question.

Is There A Difference When Renting From A Private Landlord Or From A Rental Agency?

There is no difference in emotional support animal laws whether you are renting from a private landlord or from a rental agency. A rental agency either represents a private landlord or has the same legal obligations as a private landlord.

Do All Landlords Have To Accept Emotional Support Animals?

Yes, all landlords have to accept emotional support animals provided they meet the criteria set out in the Fair Housing Act.

Do I Have To Tell My Private Landlord I Have An Emotional Support Animal?

There is no legal obligation to tell your landlord about your ESA. However, it is advisable to do so because open, honest communication with your landlord will lead to a good relationship.

What Details Do I Have To Give My Landlord When Renting With My ESA?

You do not need to give your landlord any specific details about your mental health condition. Your privacy is protected by HIPAA. The details of your condition will not be mentioned in your ESA letter.

What If Your Landlord Refuses Your Emotional Support Pet?

If your landlord refuses your ESA, you can:

What ESA Breeds Are Best Suited To Rental Accommodation?

Under the FHA, an ESA is described as a “small, domesticated animal that is typically kept in a home as a pet”. The animals that best fit this description are:

cat on couch near window
Image by Keenan Barber on Unsplash: Do private landlords have to allow emotional support animals?

How Do I Apply For A Legitimate ESA Letter?

The best way to get a legitimate ESA letter is to visit the Moosh online clinic. At Moosh, you will have a consultation with a mental health practitioner, who will verify your suitability for ESA treatment and write you a legitimate ESA letter.

How Much Does A Legitimate ESA Letter Cost?

A legitimate ESA letter package from Moosh, which includes a consultation with a mental health practitioner, an official ESA letter, housing application forms, and an ESA vest, costs $219.

How Often Should I Renew My Emotional Support Animal Letter?

You should renew your ESA letter every year.

Featured image by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash