The use of emotional support animals (ESAs) is on the rise.
These animals provide comfort to owners with disabilities. The problem is, how do you know when a person really needs an ESA? Some people even believe the certification is a scam altogether.
For landlords with no-pet policies, this poses a unique problem. It's important to know your rights when it comes to this issue.
We have the answers you need.
Read on to learn, can a landlord deny an emotional support animal?
What Is an ESA?
Before taking action as a homeowner, it's imperative to know exactly what an emotional support animal is and what they provide.
ESAs are different from service animals in a key way. While they offer therapeutic support, they're not trained to complete specific tasks. For instance, an ESA does not normally help their owner navigate through their home as a service animal does.
Rather, ESAs are assigned to people with mental disabilities such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. They give comfort and stability to people's lives.
Owners must have approval from a medical professional to get an emotional support animal.
Fair Housing Act
Tenants have a legal right to own an emotional support animal according to the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
The FHA safeguards against discrimination and requires homeowners to make "reasonable accommodations" for their tenants. Failure to do so can result in harsh legal consequences such as penalties and federal charges.
Landlords have a right to request documentation that proves the legitimacy of an emotional support animal of any kind. However, be aware that landlords cannot ask specific questions about a tenant's disability.
The bottom line is that even if you have a "no dogs" policy, if a tenant provides proof that they need an emotional support dog, they must be accommodated.
When Can a Landlord Deny an Emotional Support Animal?
Remember that according to California law, ESAs are not considered pets so they can't be denied in the same way a pet can.
That said, there are a few instances where a homeowner can legally deny an ESA.
A landlord can deny an animal if it poses a direct threat to the safety of others. In this case, you need to prove that the animal has a history of hurting people.
You can also refuse to accommodate an ESA if that animal has destroyed property. But, a landlord cannot say no to an animal based on breed or size. The reason must be based on specific evidence.
Now you know the answer to the question: can a landlord deny an emotional support animal? Illegally denying an emotional support animal can have serious consequences for homeowners. For that reason, it's always important to err on the side of caution.
To learn more about what you should consider when looking for tenants, visit here.
For questions and help with your rental needs, feel free to contact us.