self-managing landlord

Emotional Support Animals in Rental Properties: A Landlord's Perspective

Emotional support animals (ESAs) have become more common over the last decade. Someone may have an ESA if they are prescribed one by a doctor, to provide emotional support to individuals who may be struggling with mental health concerns. As a landlord, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities in regards to ESAs in an effort to best follow all local, state and federal guidelines, and best protect yourself and your property.

Firstly, it's essential to understand what protections are available to individuals with an ESA. Service animals are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, whereas ESAs are protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). This means that landlords are required to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with ESAs, unless it would create an undue financial or administrative burden. 

ESAs aren’t considered pets, but are seen as a form of therapy for individuals suffering from conditions such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. The presence of an ESA can significantly improve the emotional well-being of their owner, helping to reduce stress and anxiety, and ultimately improving their quality of life. Landlords may have concerns about damage to the property or disruption to other tenants, but reasonable accommodation can be made to make sure that the animal doesn’t cause any issues. 

For example, if the animal is dangerous or causes damage to the property, the landlord may have the right to deny the request. It's also important to note that ESAs do not have the same privileges as service animals, such as the right to accompany their owners into public spaces. In circumstances like these, we encourage landlords to seek professional legal advice. 

A tenant is not required to disclose their mental health condition or provide proof of their need for an ESA. However, the tenant must provide a letter from a licensed professional indicating that the animal provides emotional support that alleviates one or more symptoms of the tenant's disability.

Tenants often choose not to disclose their ESA up front. One reason is that they may be unsure of the landlord's policy on ESAs and fear that they will be denied housing if they disclose their animal. Others may be concerned that they will face discrimination or be wrongly denied the unit if they inform that landlord up front. In some cases, tenants may have had negative experiences in the past with disclosing their ESAs, which may make them hesitant to disclose their animal again. 

When a tenant requests an ESA, it is very important to approach the situation with empathy and understanding. ESAs can be an important tool in helping people manage their health. Denying a tenant's request unfairly for an ESA can have serious consequences.

ESAs can have a significant positive impact on the mental health and well-being of their owners. By accommodating the needs of tenants with ESAs, landlords can create a supportive and inclusive environment for everyone in the rental property. By understanding the legal standing of ESAs and approaching the issue with clear guidelines and expectations, landlords can effectively navigate this issue and create a supportive and inclusive environment for all tenants.

Similar posts