It is a common sight to see landlords having ‘No pets’ policy. If a service animal or emotional service animal is therapeutical for a person with some emotional disability, the ‘no pets’ policy can be surpassed under The Fair Housing Act. The impairment includes anxiety, depression, bipolar, PTSD, etc. Unlike some pets these service animals are well-behaved and are prescribed by doctors for treating a person with certain disorders. They do not come under the ‘pets’ category.

If you have an ESA already and are looking for rental accommodation, you need an official ESA letter to submit to the landlord to let him/her know you require the service of an ESA. Your current pet could be your ESA but you need an official ESA letter to avoid housing issues. ESA letters are prescribed by licensed mental health professionals. If your therapist finds it necessary for you to have more than one ESA, you are allowed to own more than one.

Under what conditions can a landlord refuse to provide housing?

Some landlords would be ok with accommodating ESA’s while some aren’t in favor of them, in which case you need to submit the required documentation and they can no longer refuse to provide accommodation. However, you cannot force the landowner to give in to your unreasonable demands. He/she has the right to refuse accommodation when the ESA

  • Requires large space for accommodation
  • Causes or is likely to cause problems to the tenants or the property
  • Puts the landlord under financial hardship
  • When the landlord is the occupant of the same housing unit which has under 4 units
  • When the unit is rented out without the assistance of a real estate agent

What can be done when the landlord refuses to provide housing without a valid reason?

According to fair housing act emotional support animal owners cannot be turned down housing and discriminated due to their emotional disability. You can raise a complaint if you feel your application has been rejected just cause of your emotional disability.  It is illegal and unethical to refuse to grant accommodation to them. You can sort it out by:

  • Filing a complaint with the HUD
  • Asking an attorney to address a letter to your landlord
  • Taking the guidance of an ESA advocate to settle the issue

The landlord cannot refuse to accommodate an ESA based on its breed. Neither do you have to pay additional deposit. You must be prepared to prove your disability to the landlord. You are required to submit the ESA letter if your landlord is sceptical about renting out the unit to you. You don’t worry have to worry about disclosing the nature of your disability. The letter only implies that your disability requires an ESA.

In case, you have financial constraints and other difficulties in seeking a mental health practitioner, you can get the help online from services like ‘supportpets’ which has a trusted source of medical professionals to help people get an ESA letter.