An emotional support animal (ESA) can help with several mental disabilities and provide support for people who need it. However, if you live in an apartment that’s not pet-friendly, you might be wondering: do I have to tell a landlord about an ESA? The short answer is yes, but it can be more complex. Plus, there are some rights that you and your landlord have, and landlords can petition to have you and your dog removed if your dog or pet is causing a lot of problems for the property and other tenants.
Read on to learn more about your protections and what you need to tell your landlord when living with an emotional support animal (ESA).
Emotional support animals are a designation of animals that provide emotional support for their human companions. This emotional support can come from just the animal being around, deep pressure therapy (DPT), and of course, cuddles. These animals have special rights when it comes to housing, but it’s important to note that they don’t have the same protections as service dogs. Still, many people use ESAs to provide comfort and relief from mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and stress. They can even help with serious symptoms, such as panic attacks.
Support dogs cover a wide range of dogs, like therapy dogs, service dogs, and of course, ESAs. That said, an emotional support dog and a service dog are not the same thing. Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks and have different protections under laws outlined in the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Therefore, protections for ESAs are more limited than service dogs. Luckily, this doesn’t apply to housing because ESAs can still live with you if you have an ESA letter.
Yes, you have to tell your landlord that you have an emotional support animal, especially if you’re living in housing that’s not pet-friendly. You must tell your landlord that you have a condition that permits an ESA and present them with an ESA letter. Your landlord can ask for this letter as proof of your condition, and the letter needs to be written by a licensed mental health professional, not your general physician.
Yes, landlords can deny an ESA on their Property. That said, they can’t deny an emotional support animal just because you have a disability that requires a dog; this would violate the Fair Housing Act. The only time a landlord can evict you because of an ESA is if they display the following behavior:
- Annoying your neighbors with constant barking
- Destroying furniture
- Peeing on carpets or pooping on the property
- Attacking other tenants or the landlord
These are only a few of the things that a landlord can consider when claiming that your ESA is not well-trained or well-behaved. For this reason, we always recommend training your ESA.
No, landlords can not ask about your mental health condition. They can ask for proof of your condition via the ESA letter, but they can’t inquire further about the nature of the disability. This would be in direct violation of HUD guidelines. If your landlord is persistent about getting this information, you can report them here.
When it comes to landlords and ESAs, always know your rights. You have them, and you don’t have to face discrimination from your landlord as long as everything is in order.
Emotional support animals can provide you with a lot of relief from symptoms of anxiety, stress, and much more. Always consult with a licensed mental health professional to see if an ESA is right for you, and make sure you register your ESA with an emotional support animal letter.
To register your ESA, we always recommend using a reputable online provider like US Service Animals because it’s cost-effective, and they can connect you with a licensed mental health professional once you provide some information about yourself, your condition, and your dog.