emotional support animal in rental house

When you rent from a landlord, it’s pretty common to come across some rules or restrictions that negatively impact you. Most of the time, you just have to accept the rules if you really want to live there. However, this isn’t true if you own an emotional support animal (ESA). In fact, you’re more protected for certain regulations if you have a certified ESA. Want to know more about the “no pets” rule and ESAs, or how to explain your emotional support letter to your landlord? Keep reading for more information.

What does the “no pets” rule for rented accommodations mean for me?

Before you move into a new place, you’ll want to brush up on all the regulations you’re being required to live by. These could include things like noise restrictions, parking rules, what utilities are covered, etc. One of the main rules for some rented accommodations surrounds pets. Some places might even have instituted a complete ban on pets. But if you have an ESA, this ban won’t apply to you.

Under the federal Fair Employment and Housing Act (FHA), a landlord must allow you to own an ESA in your rented home. They cannot deny housing or evict a renter simply because they own an ESA. Additionally, landlords can’t ask for a pet deposit when you move in because ESAs are not classified as regular pets.

person writing emotional support letter on laptop
Image by Christin Hume on Unsplash: Get an ESA certification letter from a mental health professional or from MooshMe.

What do I need to show my landlords for them to accept my ESA?

The only thing a landlord can ask you for is a letter from a mental health professional, certifying that you have a mental illness that your ESA is helping with. You can decide exactly how much additional information to provide in the letter – your landlord cannot further enquire about your disability other than what is printed there (so you don’t have to be afraid that you’ll need to disclose anything you’re uncomfortable with).

The letter must be legitimate, which means that the person writing it is licensed to practice medicine in the state you live in, and they have written the letter on an official letterhead to make it valid. To make sure your letter is ironclad, it can also be helpful to include things like the medical professional’s address, license number, and contact information.

How do I tell my landlord about an emotional support animal?

To inform your landlord about your ESA, you’ll do well to be courteous and upfront. You can explain your situation (without going into any details you’re uncomfortable with sharing) and let them know that you will be having an ESA living in your home with you.

If you’re wondering, “How do I present my ESA letter to my landlord?” you have a few options. Some people like to schedule a face-to-face meeting with the landlord to go over everything in a clear and open way. Others might feel more comfortable mailing in a copy of the certification letter and letting their landlord know they can speak with them if they have any questions.

There’s not really a wrong way to go about informing your landlord of your ESA (unless you’re trying to be deceitful or aggressive in any way). Remember that you are allowed under the law to own an ESA and can avoid paying any fees associated with your ESA. You’re not doing anything wrong by telling your landlord that a “no pets” rule won’t apply to you as an ESA owner.

Can landlords say no to emotional support animals?

Under the FHA law, landlords cannot say no to you owning an ESA. There could be some restrictions on how many animals you can own, since this can come down to local city ordinances. But you should be able to own at least one ESA without any problems.

So, what can you do if your landlord is still pushing you to get rid of your ESA or refusing to rent to you? There are some actions you can take. First, try talking things through with your landlord before taking further action. If you can provide them with information about the FHA law, they might be more willing to help accommodate your needs.

You can also put your landlord’s mind at ease by explaining that your ESA pet won’t make loud noises or be disruptive to other tenants. They might be more willing to be reasonable if they can be assured that your pet won’t be a problem for them (including not destroying any of their property).

If you’ve tried to have a conversation with your landlord and they’re still not budging, there are additional actions you can take. There are local, state, and federal agencies (including nonprofits and government-run organizations) that can assist in getting your landlord to uphold the FHA law. You also have the option of consulting with a lawyer in case you want to take any type of legal action. However, legal action should probably be your last resort, since it could make it difficult and uncomfortable to deal with your landlord in the future.

emotional support cat on chair in rental property
Image by Kari Shea on Unsplash: You can own an ESA cat or dog without fear of discrimination from a landlord.

Most of the time you won’t have to deal with any “no pets” rules if you have an ESA. In the majority of cases, landlords are aware of the FHA law and understand that they must allow you to own an ESA on their property, and that they cannot deny you housing simply because of your ESA. Having a legitimate ESA letter (which MooshMe can help with!) can go a long way in explaining your situation to your landlord.

On the off chance that you’re still receiving pushback or your landlord is insisting you pay a fee for owning a pet, try having a calm conversation with them where you lay out your case. Always come armed with information so you can explain your need for an ESA in plain, straightforward language. And if none of these steps are enough, work with nonprofit organizations or legal firms to make sure your right to own an ESA is respected.

Featured image by Chewy on Unsplash