What Does The Fair Housing Act Say About Emotional Support Animals?
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Being mentally disabled means dealing with discrimination and an inability to access certain places or services. The federal law acknowledges this need and works to combat discrimination by maintaining important guidelines for landlords and offering protection for people with disabilities.
There is a particular area where this issue is common, and that area is housing. Because some buildings or apartments restrict pets, the Fair Housing Act (FHA) permits ESAs to reside in these buildings or apartments. Before the FHA, landlords could discriminate against people and deny them housing. However, the Fair Housing Act gives individuals the right to pursue housing with their ESA wherever they desire.
What Is The Fair Housing Act For Emotional Support Animals?
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with mental disabilities. Under the FHA, landlords cannot turn down any person due to their mental disability. Many people with a mental disability have Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) that provide relief from the symptoms of their disability. With this law, landlords must reasonably accommodate people with ESAs, even if the building has a no-pets policy.
Policies for restricting pets do not apply to ESAs because ESAs are not considered normal pets under the FHA. Rules such as pet bans and restrictions, including the size, weight, or breed of your animal, are waived for people with legal ESA letters. Moreover, ESA owners are also exempt from any extra service fees for pets, even though fees might be applicable charged for normal pets.
As an emotional support pet owner, you may often wonder: whether or not their landlord will deny emotional support animals, and when can a landlord legally reject an ESA?
Can Your Landlord Deny Your Emotional Support Animal?Under the Fair Housing Act ESA, landlords or buildings cannot legally deny housing to a person with any mental or physical disability. However, they need to provide an ESA letter to the landlord for reasonable accommodation. ESA Letters are official documents written and signed by a registered mental health professional. The ESA Letter says that you have a mental disability, and a support animal would alleviate symptoms of that disability. After providing an ESA letter to the landlord, he cannot legally ask you for any more documents, nor do you need to discuss your mental illness. But, there are a few reasons landlords may not allow emotional support animals.
When Can A Landlord Legally Reject An ESA?Emotional Support Animals and Service animals indeed have some similarities, but their roles are both different at the core. We have already described emotional support animals. ESA owners enjoy many protections under the law, but there are some exceptions for landlords as well. ESA owners must be mindful of respecting the laws that protect others.
- Housing properties where the property owner resides, a single-family home, or a building with fewer than four units.
- Public places like hotels, restaurants, lounges, etc. are not covered by the FHA.
- While landlords cannot charge fees for accommodating an ESA, they are legally allowed to charge a renter if any damage is caused by the ESA.
- The landlord can refuse, if an ESA is vicious, threatening, loud, or behaving inappropriately toward others in the building.
If Your Landlord Refuses To AccommodateAccording to the FHA, landlords must provide accommodation if the disability claim is legal and the ESA does not create health issues or hardship towards others on the property. However, if a landlord refuses your accommodation even after the ESA letter, you can request a government agency investigate your claim that the landlord is discriminating against you.
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You have several options for filing a complaint:
- You can file a discrimination complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) online.
- You can print and complete a HUD Discrimination Form and mail it to the HUD office.
- You can also file a complaint directly to the government agency that investigates discrimination claims.
How Many Emotional Support Animals Can You Have In An Apartment?For accommodations of multiple emotional support animals, you need to follow the same protocol as you would for one pet, but with some additional steps. The ESA owner needs to explain what type of individual service each animal provides. Moreover, when it comes to multiple ESAs, it would depend on the species and number of animals. For instance, two large dogs that bark in a small apartment or three horses in the small backyard can be considered an undue financial burden to the property owner. Thus, challenging the reasonable accommodation clause.
ConclusionIf you are considering qualifying for an ESA or already have an ESA, it is helpful to understand what the fair housing act emotional support animal is. Not only can it help you access accommodation, but it means you can take your ESA with you. An animal qualifies as an ESA through a recommendation letter provided by a registered health care professional. If you are having trouble finding a therapist, you can FastESALetter for a legitimate online ESA service.
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