Can an Apartment Complex Deny an Emotional Support Animal?
An apartment complex cannot deny an emotional support animal (ESA) that provides support directly relating to a mental or emotional disability of the owner. While emotional support animals are not afforded the same widespread protections as service dogs, housing is an area in which there is legal protections in place. Even if a complex has a no-pet policy, a waiver must be granted in most cases once documentation is provided.
Getting the needed document is pretty straightforward. You'll just need a letter from a licensed therapist or other mental health professional. If the landlord still refuses, you can file a discrimination complaint with HUD or get a lawyer involved.
Some landlords think they are not required to provide accommodations for an ESA in the same way they are for a service dog, so sometimes it only takes educating them on the laws to get them to comply.
Note that while the landlord should not charge you a pet deposit, you will be responsible for any damage caused by the ESA.
Service Animal vs. ESA
It's also important for those with an ESA or those planning to get one to understand that protections for an ESA only pertain to housing and air travel. Unlike a service dog, an ESA may not be welcome in restaurants and other public places while a service dog must be allowed anywhere open to the public.
Exceptions to the Rule
Most rental properties must allow your emotional support animal, but there are some exceptions:
- Single-family homes rented without the help of a broker
- Buildings with four or fewer units and in which the landlord occupies one
The laws change from time to time, so it's important to know your rights before you begin your search for the perfect rental.
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