More Americans are renting their homes in 2021 than at any other time in history. Almost 40% of household heads in the US are renters. Some of these people are renting by choice, and some out of necessity.
Many people prefer to rent instead of tying themselves to a long-term mortgage. Renting gives you the freedom to change plans at short notice. It enables you to move around and experience life in different places. Renting also makes it possible to dial up or down your expenditures in accordance with how much you want to work and earn. For these reasons, renting is popular with young Americans.
With house prices at record highs, millions of Americans cannot afford to get onto the housing ladder. Many of these people have no choice but to rent their accommodation.
ESA Owners And Renting
The COVID pandemic and associated lockdowns has prompted a stark rise in mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Emotional support animals are providing crucial treatment to people who are suffering from these conditions.
Many ESA owners currently rent or are planning to rent accommodation. So what are ESA owners’ rights when renting? Can landlords discriminate against emotional support animals? When can a landlord legally reject an ESA? What can you do if your landlord won’t allow your emotional support animal to live with you?
Below, we will answer these important questions and more.
What Are The Benefits Of Living With An Emotional Support Pet?
There are many benefits to having an emotional support pet living with you in your rented accommodation. ESAs can provide effective treatments for mental health conditions, including:
Emotional support pets help by providing:
- Tactile affection
- A reason to exercise and go outdoors
- A sense of meaning and responsibility
What Laws Deal With ESA Owners Rights When Renting?
The federal laws that are most relevant to emotional support animal owners’ rights when renting accommodation are the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which protects people who are renting from discrimination based on disability, race, national origin, sex, religion, or familial status; and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which protects the privacy of sensitive health information.
What Rights Do ESA Owners Have When Living In Rented Housing?
Under the FHA, people with mental health conditions must be granted “reasonable accommodations” when renting. This means that all reasonable accommodations must be made by a landlord to make it possible for a person with a mental health condition to be able to live in their property. Allowing an emotional support animal is considered to be a reasonable accommodation.
Can Landlords Discriminate Against Emotional Support Animals?
So, can an ESA be denied housing? The answer is yes, under specific circumstances. So when can a landlord legally reject an ESA?
A landlord can refuse an ESA if it is an inappropriate species. In the FHA, an emotional support pet is defined as a “small, domesticated animal that is typically kept in a home as a pet”. This means that common pet species such as dogs and cats qualify, but more exotic ESA species may not.
Also, even if it is a reasonable species, if an ESA is unruly, loud, badly behaved, or vicious and menacing other residents, a landlord can deny it housing.
What If Your Landlord Won’t Allow An Emotional Support Animal?
Your landlord is bound by the FHA to allow an ESA, provided the ESA is of a reasonable type and reasonably behaved. If your landlord refuses to allow your emotional support pet even though it is well behaved and of an acceptable species, you have several options. You can:
- Contact your local Fair Housing Center or file a complaint with the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development
- Contact a lawyer and have them write a letter to your landlord
- Contact your local ESA advocacy group
What Types Of ESAs Are Best Suited To Living In Rented Accommodation?
The best way to ensure that your landlord is happy to allow you to have an emotional support pet living with you in your rented accommodation is to have an ESA of a reasonable species that is well behaved, well trained, clean, and friendly. This will make your life, the life of your landlord, and the lives of anybody else who resides at the property easier and less stressful.
The best ESA species to get if you want to live in rented accommodation are:
- Potbellied pig
- Domesticated rat
With any of these species, you should not have any problems.
Can An Emotional Support Animal Be Denied Access To A Restaurant Or Hotel?
Neither restaurants nor hotels are covered under the FHA. This means that emotional support pets can be denied access to hotels and restaurants. Whether or not an ESA is allowed into a specific hotel or restaurant is at the discretion of the management or staff on duty.
How Do You Get An ESA Letter?
The easiest way to get an ESA letter is to visit the Moosh online clinic and have a consultation with a licensed mental health practitioner. In the consultation, your mental health condition and suitability for ESA treatment will be verified and, if you qualify, an official ESA letter will be sent to you immediately.