The Fair Housing Act prevents landlords from discriminating against tenants (or potential tenants) with disabilities, including those with an emotional support animal. A landlord can not evict or dent someone housing because they have an emotional support animal, and the apartment complex or housing association has a no pets policy. Learn what to expect when giving your landlord an emotional support letter.

The Fair Housing Act

It's important for mental health and well being to have stable housing. The Fair Housing Act aims to prevent landlords from discriminating against those with disabilities like those who have assistance aids like an emotional support animal or a service animal. The law also covers discrimination based on race, religion, age, and gender. Landlords must provide reasonable accommodation to those with disabilities by allowing their emotional support animals. They cannot charge a pet fee or pet deposit for emotional support animals and must accept all ESAs as long as they're not an "unreasonable accommodation." ESA owners are responsible for any damages caused by their emotional support animals. 

Presenting an ESA Letter

If you have an emotional support animal and the landlord or property owner does not allow pets, give them with your emotional support letter and ask for a reasonable accommodation. Some landlords are unfamiliar with emotional support animal laws. You can educate them on the Fair Housing Act if they have not heard of it before. If the landlord denies you housing because of your emotional support animal, you can file a complaint with the U.S Department of Justice. You can file for discrimination against the landlord. In some cases (with the right legal counsel), you can use the landlord for discrimination. 

Exceptions to the Fair Housing Act

Emotional support animals are not service animals and have different rights. A Service animal can accompany their owners into any place open to the general public, including restaurants and grocery stores. The Americans with Disabilities Act covers short-term accommodations like hotels and motels, which must allow service dogs but not emotional support animals. Even if your pet is an emotional support animal, if the hotel does not have a pet-friendly policy, they do not legally have to allow your ESA. A landlord may be able to get around the Fair Housing Act if they live on the premise of the rental property (building with less than four units), but the housing must be available for sale or rent without a real estate agent (for sale or for rent by owner only). 

The Fair Housing Act prevents property owners from discriminating against tenants based on age, race, religion, gender, or for having a disability. Landlords and property owners must provide reasonable accommodation for those with disabilities, including allowing emotional support animals and service animals even if they have a strict no-pets policy.  They can deny an ESA only if they can prove it's an "unreasonable accommodation" like having a horse in an apartment. Property owners cannot charge a pet fee or pet deposit for assistance animals, but the ESA owner is responsible for any damage caused by their ESA

Published by Shahbaz Ahmed