An emotional support animal is a person’s pet that has been registered to provide emotional and psychological support to help the person deal with problems such as anxiety, depression, autism, Asperger’s and post-traumatic stress disorder. Emotional support animals are prescribed by a medical professional such as a therapist, psychiatrist or psychologist.
It’s worth noting that there is a difference between an emotional support animal and a service animal. Service animals are there to help their owner who have some sort of impairment so severe it is classified as a disability. For instance, a person who is blind might require a service animal to be trained to help mitigate the disability. Emotional support animals, however, do not have to undergo any sort of training, and their purpose is to help comfort and ease the mental and emotional symptoms of their owner.
If you are renting accommodation, it is crucial to know what procedures and rules are in place when it comes to keeping an emotional support animal with you. Although it is illegal for landlords to reject a potential tenant because of any physical or mental disability, issues can still arise. We have come up with some ways of dealing with your landlord to prevent and solve any housing problems with your ESA.
It is important, first and foremost, to inform your landlord that your pet is ESA-registered and ensure that they know the laws, including the Fair Housing Act, that protect your rights to having an ESA animal live with you without incurring any pet deposits or additional costs. If you do not let your landlord know this, they have the right to charge you fees for having a pet reside with you in the accommodation.
Furthermore, ensuring that your landlord is aware of the Fair Housing Act means several things. For instance, they cannot question you about the extent of your disability or require that your ESA animal has any sort of training. Overall, ensuring that you communicate clearly with your landlord means that you can build an open and friendly relationship which will be ideal if you plan on renting long term.
It is straightforward and easy to obtain proof that your pet is ESA-registered. This can be obtained online by filling out a questionnaire, waiting for a response from a medical professional and then, if approved, receiving the ESA letter to help you with dealing with your landlord. You can also contact your therapist and request a written letter from them. If you do not provide any proof, landlords are not obliged to rent their property to you.
Failing to Comply
If a building manager or landlord fails to comply with the Fair Housing Act and provide residence for a disabled person with an ESA animal, they can be sued by the potential tenant. To make sure they are not in violation of the Fair Housing Act, however, the above point regarding communicating with the landlord is important.
If things escalate to the stage where the disabled person wishes to sue on grounds of discrimination, they can file a complaint to the U.S justice department. Furthermore, it is also possible to get in touch with your state’s civil rights office to gain more insight on how to file a housing discrimination complaint. It is important to note that this should not be considered as legal advice, and it’s always a good idea to speak to a licensed attorney for more information.
Contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Another option to help you with dealing with your landlord is to contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It can offer advice, and you will also be able to file a complaint by printing the HUD discrimination form and sending it off or filing a complaint electronically.
Be Aware of What Applies to You
A person with an ESA animal must also comply with certain rules. For example, they must make sure that their emotional support animal is not aggressive toward other people or animals in the building when unprovoked. They must also be aware that they will be charged for any damage caused to the accommodation by their pet. It is important to be aware of these conditions as it will help maintain a smooth relationship with the landlord or building manager.
Overall, once you have obtained valid proof from a medical professional that your pet is an ESA animal, the renting procedure is normally straightforward. Of course, things are not always smooth sailing, but making sure that you communicate with the landlord early on and ensuring that they are aware of the laws in place will help with any issues that may occur. If the landlord fails to provide reasonable accommodation after proof has been provided, there are options to file complaints. The tenant is always protected under the Fair Housing Act.