Can A Landlord Refuse An Emotional Support Animal?

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante

Emotional support animals have helped countless people navigate their mental health and the many stresses of daily life. The hoops tenants must jump through to bring pets into their apartments can be quite frustrating. So, can a landlord refuse an emotional support animal?

A landlord cannot refuse an emotional support animal under the protection of the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act ensures that tenants can live with emotional support animals without having to pay a deposit or extra money on rent. However, you must visit a mental health professional to get an emotional support animal letter of approval to provide to your landlord.

Contact the Equal Housing & Opportunity Council if your landlord denies your emotional support animal when you have a letter of approval. This may qualify as a housing discrimination violation, and your landlord may face legal consequences and fines. Follow along as we explore everything you need to know before you bring an emotional support animal into your apartment.

Do Landlords Have To Allow Emotional Support Animals?

Landlords must allow emotional support animals when a tenant provides an ESA letter. The Fair Housing Act protects tenants with service dogs and emotional support animals. When you apply for a lease, you must show your landlord your emotional support animal letter from a mental health professional.

You can also bring an emotional support animal into a house or apartment you already live in if you provide the ESA letter. However, it’s up to you to make sure your emotional support animal behaves well and doesn’t threaten your neighbors. That is one of the only ways a landlord can legally eject your emotional support animal.

When Can A Landlord Deny An Emotional Support Animal?

A landlord can only deny an emotional support animal in a few situations, such as if you don’t have an ESA letter. An ESA letter from a mental health professional is the only item you must provide to prove you are eligible to keep an emotional support animal. Your landlord may also deny your emotional support animal if the ESA letter doesn’t come from a licensed professional.

A landlord can deny your emotional support animal if the animal attacks and threatens the other tenants. Ideally, you should keep your emotional support animal on a leash and train them well, so they can calmly interact with strangers. That way, you won’t have to worry about your landlord changing their mind and restricting the animal.

Do You Have To Pay Rent For An ESA?

You don’t have to pay rent for an emotional support animal. Landlords cannot lawfully request a standard deposit for an emotional support animal like they would with most pets. They cannot charge you more for your monthly rent if you have an emotional support animal either.

You are protected from spending extra money on rent for an ESA because of the Fair Housing Act. Housing discrimination is illegal. If you are a victim of housing discrimination, submit an inquiry online and follow the process to see what they can do to help. The Equal Housing & Opportunity Council can investigate the claim and tell you how to proceed.

When To Tell A Landlord About An Emotional Support Animal

Tell your landlord about your emotional support animal right away to avoid conflict. While they can’t refuse the animal if you have an ESA letter, it can still create an uncomfortable situation if you withhold the information for too long. Ideally, you should tell your landlord about the animal before you bring it into your apartment.

That is especially true if your landlord has a strict policy that restricts pets. Luckily, emotional support animals are welcome in “pet-free” apartments with the proper documentation. Reach out to your landlord, explain the situation, and attach the emotional support letter before you bring the animal into your apartment.

Do You Have To Register An Emotional Support Animal?

You don’t have to register an emotional support animal with the state or federal government. However, you must speak to a professional therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist to obtain a letter. The mental health professional will evaluate your mental health and decide whether or not to grant you a letter of approval.

It’s a simple process and it’s typically quite easy to get the letter of approval from your therapist. From there, you just show the letter in situations where businesses or landlords request it.

Can You Bring An Emotional Support Animal Into A Store?

You can bring an emotional support animal to stores if the manager or owner allows it. This is more of a gray area than bringing emotional support animals into an apartment. Legally, emotional support animals aren’t allowed to enter public buildings without permission.

However, your emotional support animal is welcome in the common areas of your apartment building. Business owners and managers can eject you from stores and restaurants when you bring in an emotional support animal. It’s ultimately up to the owner’s discretion whether or not your emotional support animal is welcome.

Can You Bring An Emotional Support Animal To School?

You cannot typically bring an emotional support animal to school. Reach out to your school’s administrator to see if they will let you bring in an emotional support animal. You won’t likely be able to bring the animal into a public school, but you may have better luck at a private school.

Summing It Up

Your landlord can only refuse an emotional support animal if you don’t have a letter from a licensed mental health professional. A psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist can write a letter of approval if their evaluation determines that you qualify for an emotional support animal. You won’t have to pay extra money on rent and your landlord cannot request a pet deposit.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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