Do I have to tell my landlord I have an emotional support animal?

People with emotional or mental disabilities often need an emotional support animal (ESA) that is a source of comfort and happiness in their life. However, sometimes being a renter with an emotional support animal can be problematic.

House owners impose a “no pets” policy to avoid any potential damage and noise disturbance in the building and do not allow the renters to keep ESA.

People often ask about whether they can be renters and if they have to tell the landlord about their ESA? If they know what they should tell their landlord, things can get pretty straightforward and lead to a friendly and beneficial relationship. 

Thankfully, the Fair Housing Act protects the renters with ESA to live freely in “no pets” buildings without paying any additional charges. Here we will tell you more about it!

Emotional Support Animal

An emotional support animal (or ESA) helps people with mental and emotional disabilities like depression and anxiety; it also provides love and support to such individuals to let them live a normal and peaceful life.

It can be any animal that does not violate the local and state laws. To be qualified for ESA, you must have an emotional or mental disability that affects your life activities. 

If you have an ESA or are looking forward to get one, you must get a letter from a licensed therapist.

emotional support animal (ESA)

Fair Housing Act

Fair Housing Act protects people of any race, sex, religion, origin, status, and disability against discrimination while buying or renting a house or property. According to the act, renters can have ESA even if there is a “no pets” policy for the building.

Landlords cannot deny the renting facility to renters in this situation.

The right way is to first get an ESA letter from a licensed professional that can be shown to the landlord. You can also keep more than 1 ESA as per your therapist’s recommendation. Thus, you are allowed to keep 2 or 3 cats or dogs.

Moreover, keeping a reasonable pet would not cause any difficulty for the landlord financially and physically; and it would be easier for the landlord to rent out his property. If you have an unreasonable ESA such as a horse, wild animal, or 10-15 big birds, the landlord has the right to prevent you from bringing that in.

➡LEARN MORE: What does a Landlord should Ask from a Previous Owner?

What should you tell your landlord about your ESA?

Informing your landlord about having an ESA is not a requisite. Although you are not bound, it is advisable to inform your landlord about your ESA before the lease. You can provide him the original letter in hard copy or send him a digital copy.

Informing before signing the contract will help you develop an open and honest relationship with your landlord. If you do not have an ESA right now but may need it, you should tell your landlord about having it in the future.

Regarding the complete details of what problem you have and why you are keeping an ESA, it is unnecessary to tell your landlord. Only a letter and your disclosure should be the requirements for getting housing.

As your landlord should be concerned about your pet’s type and size, you should inform him about which animal you are bringing in; your ESA can be a dog, cat, bird, fish, rodent, or pig. 

Moreover, if your ESA affects other tenants or causes any financial or structural loss, your landlord can evict you.

However, if he tries to evict you outside of these causes, he is misusing his rights. File a complaint against him with the HUD, contact a lawyer to send a warning letter to your landlord, or get an ESA advocate to guide you properly.

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