If you are looking into adopting an emotional support animal, you may be worried about your landlord kicking you out because of their no pet policy, or not renewing your lease the next year due to your emotional support animal. Find out what your rights are and what your landlord can legally do or not do in regards to your emotional support animal.
What is an Emotional Support Animal?
An emotional support animal is any animal that provides emotional support alleviating one or more symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. Emotional support animals provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, but do not have special training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities.
What Rights Do Emotional Support Animal Have?
Emotional support animals are protected under the Fair Housing Act, meaning you can live with your ESA regardless of pet policy or pet fees. To have an ESA, a mental health professional must write you an official letter of certification verifying you have a mental illness or disability for which you need the companionship of an ESA. Once you have an emotional support animal letter of certification, you can show it to your landlord, and they are legally required to allow you to live with your animal.
Other Factors to Consider
Your ESA letter of certification must be renewed once a year, so keep this in mind and have it ready in case it becomes an issue with your landlord. Also note that your landlord can refuse your emotional support animal if the animal is causing damage to the property or causing an excessive disturbance. Make sure that your ESA is well behaved and friendly, does not disturb your neighbors, or cause property damage. If your landlord can prove the animal is causing undue hardship, they can ask you to get rid of it or terminate your lease.
What To Do If Your Landlord Terminates Your Lease Because of Your ESA
If your landlord wrongfully terminates your lease because of your ESA, you can file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). They will investigate the complaint and if they find that the landlord has discriminated against you, the landlord will be fined and required to take corrective action.
In summary, your ESA is protected under the Fair Housing Act and can live with you regardless of pet policy or fees unless it will cause your landlord undue hardship. If your landlord still threatens to evict you over having an ESA, you can file a complaint with HUD and open an investigation into the issue. If you have questions, or need an emotional support animal letter of certification, contact our experts at United Support Animal. To select a letter package call to see if you qualify at 800-918-3151 or do an online screening.