When Can a Landlord Deny An Emotional Support Animal?

By: ROS Team

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An emotional support animal offers therapeutic benefits to its owner through companionship and affection.

In some cases, a landlord may deny an emotional support animal if the request is unreasonable, considering the circumstances. Let’s understand when a landlord can deny an emotional support animal and what constitutes a reasonable request.

What are Emotional Support Animals?

Emotional support animals provide emotional or psychological comfort to their owner. They are different from service animals as they are not trained to perform specific tasks for the person with a disability. The animal is usually a dog or cat, but it can also be a bird, ferret, rabbit, or another mammal.

In the US, about 1/3 of the population suffers from mental illness, and about 10% suffer from depression.

So, the use of ESA has been increasing in recent years, especially among those who need emotional support.

Who is Eligible for an ESA?

A person can be eligible for an emotional support animal if they have one of the following conditions:

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Attacks
  • Depression
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder


Landlord’s Rights: Can a Landlord Deny an Emotional Support Animal?

Landlords have the right to allow or deny pets in their housing. However, they must also make reasonable accommodations for those who need pets, such as ESAs or service animals.

The Fair Housing Act protects you from discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability. This means that landlords cannot refuse to rent to tenants with emotional support animals. The law does not require that the animal be certified or registered.

Emotional Support Animals
Photo Credit: Canva

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also protects disabled individuals from discrimination in their homes, but exceptions exist. A landlord may be able to deny an ESA if the person does not have a disability and the animal is not necessary for the person’s mental health or well-being.

Also, landlords may require tenants to pay pet deposits and monthly pet rent, even for emotional support animals.

The Fair Housing Act does not require landlords to waive any additional fees or deposits for tenants with disabilities who need emotional support animals.

Landlords are only required to make “reasonable accommodations” for such tenants, which includes a reasonable number of emotional support animals and charging them only the same pet deposit as other tenants with dogs or cats.

When Can Landlords Deny an ESA

  • When the housing request is unreasonable, for example:- a horse stable.
  • When the animal is trespassing on another’s rights.
  • When the ESA letter has expired.
  • The requests are unreasonable; the ESA is only an excuse to have a pet in a Pet-free accommodation.


When They Can’t Deny an ESA

  • When the animal is adequately taken care of by the owner
  • Other housing requirements are met.
  • Tenent has an ESA letter.
  • The animal is necessary for day-to-day living.


Steps to Get an ESA Letter

To get an emotional support animal letter, you have to go through many hoops and have your medical records documented. You need a diagnosis from a qualified doctor, who will review your medical history and diagnose you with either a mental or physical disability.

Steps to Get an ESA Letter
Photo Credit: Canva


Before your doctor agrees to write the letter, they will need the following:

  • The first step is to get an ESA letter request form from the doctor or therapist who will be issuing the letter. They will need to fill out this form with your details and any medical information that they may have about you.
  • You must then provide them with your medical records, which they will use to verify that you are eligible for an ESA letter.
  • Once they have verified your eligibility, they’ll send the completed form back to you so that you can submit it for approval by the Social Security Administration (SSA).


All these steps are necessary because they ensure the letter’s authenticity and protect people who might falsely claim disability.

FAQs: Emotional Support Animal

Is it illegal to Deny an Emotional Support Dog?

No, it is not illegal to deny an emotional support dog. However, if you rent your property, you can put in a “no pets” policy. If the tenant has a medical certificate, they will be exempt from the rule and allowed to keep their pet.

Do I have to Inform my Landlord about my Emotional Support Animal?

You must tell your landlord that you have an ESA. The law doesn’t require you to disclose, but you should mention it casually when discussing the lease. You should be upfront and honest about the fact that you have an emotional support animal.

Can Apartments Deny ESA?

The answer to this question is no. The Fair Housing Act prohibits any discrimination in housing based on disability, so an apartment cannot deny the request for an emotional support animal in the presence of an ESA letter.

Are Landlords Required to Accept Emotional Support Animals?

Landlords are not required to accept an ESA but must comply with the Fair Housing Act.

If the request for an ESA is reasonable and the tenant has the requisite ESA letter, the landlord has to accept it. The landlord may charge a pet deposit and/or require the owner to pay for damage caused by the animal.

How to Handle a Landlord saying No to an ESA?

There are many reasons why a landlord may say no to an ESA. They might not be aware of the law, or they might not think that the tenant will comply with their terms. One way to handle this situation is to provide them with information about ESAs and why they need one.

For example, if your landlord says that you can’t have an ESA because of your dog’s breed, you can show them research about how ESAs can help people with disabilities who own certain breeds of dogs.

What Steps can a Landlord take if an ESA becomes a Problem?

If an ESA becomes a problem for the landlord, then they need to know what their rights are and what steps they can take.

The landlord should determine if the tenant’s ESA is causing any damage or nuisance by reading the lease agreement carefully and asking the tenant about it. If there was no mention of ESAs in the lease agreement, it might be difficult for the landlord to take action against them. The landlord can also ask their insurance company if they will provide coverage in case of an incident caused.

Read Also:

How to Find a Pet Friendly Apartment in NYC
Best ways to Find a Rental Property for Multiple Pets