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Iowa Legislation Sends Governor A New Bill Regarding The ESA Housing Accommodations

Published on April 05, 2024 by Darren Jorgensen
On Monday, the Iowa legislature passed an amended bill regarding the new rules on how Iowa landlords should handle requests from renters who ask for emotional support animal or service animal accommodations.  
ESA Housing Accommodations

Introduction

The bill Senate File 2268 states that if a person with a disability needs to accommodate their assistance animal in a rental housing then the landlord can request a letter from a licensed healthcare professional verifying the necessity of the animal for the tenant’s well-being. Moreover, the medical provider registering the animal and the patient should have a relationship longer than one month before the request.

However, tenants are not required to disclose their disability. Rather, they need only disclose enough information to document their disability-related need for an assistance animal.

The bill outlines reasons for which a landlord can reasonably deny requests for a service or support animal:

  • If having a service or support animal imposes an undue financial and administrative hardship on the landlord.
  • If the animal would fundamentally alter the nature of the landlord’s operations.
  • If the assistance animal poses a direct threat to the safety or health of others.
  • If the animal would cause substantial physical damage to the property.

Under all these circumstances, the landlords can deny the accommodation request for the support or service animal. Senate File 2268 has been sent to the Gov. Kim Reynolds for final consideration.

The bill won unanimous approval in the House, Senator Scott Webster of Bettendorf said the bill will help ensure that people in need of assistance and service animals can get accommodations, but that people who are “inappropriately” using assistance animal accommodations will be less able to misuse the system.

During a floor debate in March, Turek said, “We want to avoid any unintentional consequences to disabled individuals that really need that the service animal, We want to have more regulation on the emotional support animals without adding any unnecessary burdens to the disabled individuals, or eroding any of those protections.

However, the landlords still would be required to make reasonable accommodations for assistance and service animals in their rules, policies, practices, and services normally required for pets. The bill states “It shall not be construed to restrict existing federal law related to a person’s right to a reasonable accommodation and equal access to housing, including but not limited to the federal Fair Housing Act.”

Who Are Assistance Animals?

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines an assistance animal as one that provides assistance or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or that provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified effects of a disability.

What Will Change After The New ESA Laws in Iowa?

With the coming of Senate File 2268, an individual may find it hard to accommodate their assistance animal if they do not have a legitimate document. Therefore, you must get a legitimate document (ESA letter or PSD letter) for your support or service animal. This document must be obtained from a licensed mental health professional, stating the need of the animal for your mental well-being.

Posted in: News

About the Author

Patricia Thompson
Darren Jorgensen
Darren M. Jorgensen has a fondness for all animals, though dogs especially, have a huge home in his heart. He enjoys quilting, making handcrafted soap and bodyworks and anything that produces practical products. Jorgensen lives with his own service dog who doubles as an Emotional Support Animal. He gets it.

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