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Can a Landlord Refuse Emotional Support Animals Due to Breed, Weight or Size?

Updated on May 11, 2023 by Prince Sharma

In the United States, mental illness is one of the common concerns between people. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), nearly one in five people experiencing mental health conditions seek the assistance of an emotional support animal. While owning an emotional support animal might not be an issue for those with a home, it can be challenging for tenants looking for reasonable accommodation. A landlord may ask you to provide a legal document proving that your pet is an ESA (emotional support animal) and not an ordinary pet, in the form of an ESA Letter.

Many people do not apply for an Emotional Support Animal letter or are afraid to do so because they think the landlord may refuse their ESA request. However, they are unaware that the U.S. Government has passed specific rules and regulations to protect the ESA and their owners.

Can a Landlord Refuse Emotional Support Animals Due to Breed, Weight or Size

The Fair Housing Act and ESAs

The Fair Housing Act, passed in 1968, protects the housing rights of those with mental or emotional health disabilities. The landlords, managers, and owners of buildings are now required to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with certified mental health disabilities. According to the Fair Housing Act (FHA), a landlord cannot deny your Emotional Support Animal because your ESA is considered a part of your medical treatment, not a pet.

However, if you are looking for reasonable accommodation or have already selected an apartment, you should have a valid ESA letter.

You must be wondering what the term ‘reasonable accommodation’ exactly means. The Fair Housing Act describes the term ‘reasonable accommodation’ as a modification, exception, or adjustment to a law, policy, practice, or service. Under this law, a person with a disability has equal access or benefits from a home, including public and everyday use places.

Can A Landlord Refuse An Emotional Support Animal?

Since your ESA is a part of your medical health treatment, a landlord cannot refuse your emotional support animal if you have a valid ESA letter. Emotional Support Animals have no breed, weight, or size restrictions. However, the landlord may refuse your request if they have a valid reason for denying your request to access the accommodation or, in the worst-case scenario, they can file for eviction if your emotional support animal is very disruptive or you are not able to take the necessary precautions to ensure that the ESA does not affect other people living in that building.

Can Landlords Charge Extra Charges or Fees on ESA?

Emotional support animals are not technically considered pets under the Fair Housing Act. The owners do not have to pay pet fees for living with their ESA. This means landlords, co-ops, and HOAs cannot impose additional pet fees or deposits on tenants since emotional support animals are not considered pets. However, if the ESA causes any damage to the landlord’s property, the ESA owner is responsible for paying for that harm.

What To Do When Your Landlord Does Not Accept Your ESA

When looking for accommodation, it is common to see landlords and housing providers with a ‘no-pet’ policy in their buildings. While most tenants are required to abide by this policy, there are some circumstances in which people are permitted to keep animals in buildings that prohibit pets.

If the tenant has a valid ESA letter signed by a qualified healthcare professional, landlords must allow emotional support animals. However, occasionally, landlords turn down a tenant’s request to live with an ESA.
If this happens to you, and you believe the landlord discriminating against you, you can seek assistance from the Fair Housing Authority. The discrimination practice can be filed within a year of the date of the discriminatory act, but you are advised to report it as soon as possible. After the complaint has been filed, the HUD or Fair Housing will either conduct an investigation or refer it to another agency for investigation.

How to Get an ESA Letter For Housing?

A valid ESA Letter can be obtained in various ways, but it must be written by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). The US Department of Housing (HUD) has published standards that define LMHPs as primary care physicians, therapists, counselors, psychiatrists, social workers, etc.

You should ask your doctor to get an ESA letter for housing. You can connect with the Fast ESA Letter if you don’t know about qualified mental health professionals or want an ESA Letter. We can help you connect with a qualified healthcare expert who specializes in providing legitimate ESA letters based on your mental health conditions.

3 step process to get an esa letter

About the Author

Vincent Maldonado
Prince Sharma
Prince Sharma is a content manager at Fast ESA Letter. He loves reading books and designing. Prince is also a huge pet lover, especially cats! When he's not working, you can find him exploring new design trends or curled up with a good book and his cats.

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