Landlord tips & tricks
July 29, 2022

Can a Landlord Legally Reject an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?

Steadily's blog cover page for information around landlord insurance.

What is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?

An ESA is an emotional support animal. These animals provide companionship, love, and support to people who have emotional or psychological disorders. ESAs are not specifically trained to perform a task, but their mere presence can provide relief and comfort to their owners. The most common types of ESAs are dogs and cats, but any type of animal can be an ESA.

Do ESAs Have to be Registered?

The simple answer is yes, emotional support animals (ESAs) have to be registered in order to be considered a legitimate ESA. The process is not complicated and there are many resources available to help owners through the process.

The reason for this is that ESAs provide a very important service to their owners. They are not just pets, but companions that offer emotional support and help alleviate anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions.

There are many benefits to having an ESA, but there are also some responsibilities that come along with it. One of those responsibilities is making sure an ESA is registered and trained.

The process is not difficult, but it is important to make sure it is done correctly. There are a few different ways to register an ESA, but the most common method is through an online registry.

Once an ESA is registered, the owner will be given a certification that they can show to their landlord or housing provider. This certification proves that their ESA is legitimate and that they have the right to have the ESA with them.

Related Reading: Can a Landlord Be Sued For Emotional Distress?

What Types of Animals Can Be Designated an ESA?

There is no definitive answer to this question as it largely depends on the individual circumstances of the person in question. However, in general, most people who qualify for an emotional service animal will be able to choose any type of animal that provides them with the necessary emotional support. This could include anything from a cat or dog to a snake or bird.

It is important to note that not all animals can be considered an ESA. In order to qualify, the animal must provide a specific type of emotional support that is not available from other sources. For example, simply providing companionship is not enough to qualify an animal as an ESA. The animal must be able to provide some type of emotional relief that helps the person cope with a specific condition, such as anxiety or depression.

What Does and ESA Registration Mean?

An ESA certification means that an animal companion has been evaluated by a qualified professional and determined to provide therapeutic benefits to the owner. This designation allows them to live with their animal in most “no pet” housing and to bring their ESA with them in the cabin of an airplane, free of charge.

What Rights Do Tenants with an ESA Have?

A tenant with an ESA animal has the right to live in their dwelling with their animal and to have the animal accompany them in all areas of the dwelling where the public is allowed to go. The animal must not be a nuisance or danger to other tenants or to the property itself.

Is It Legal for a Landlord to Reject an ESA?

The simple answer is yes, a landlord can legally reject an ESA. However, there are certain conditions that must be met in order for this to happen.

The first condition is that the landlord must have a "no pets" policy in place. This policy must be clearly stated in the lease agreement or other rental documents. If there is no such policy, then the landlord cannot refuse to allow an ESA on the premises.

The second condition is that the landlord must be able to demonstrate that the presence of an ESA would create an undue hardship. This means that the landlord must show that allowing the ESA would significantly impact their ability to run the property or would pose a health or safety risk to other tenants.

For instance, if another tenant is allergic to the animal in question, the landlord can request that the animal be removed from the premises. Or, if the animal is aggressive around children, this could pose an imminent threat to other tenants causing a landlord reject ESA.

Another issue that could allow a landlord to reject an ESA is the size of the animal. Miniature horses have become popular ESAs because of their calm demeanor and pleasing appearance. However, an landlord can claim an undue burden in having to allow what is essentially a barnyard animal live in a rental property that is not designed to house a horse.

If any of these conditions are met, then the landlord can legally reject an ESA. However, it's important to note that this does not mean that the landlord can automatically evict a tenant who has an ESA. The landlord would still need to follow the proper eviction procedures set forth in their state's laws.

Related Reading: 10 Things a Landlord Can't Do

What Happens if a Landlord Rejects an ESA?

If a landlord rejects an ESA, the individual may file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Department of Housing and Urban Development will investigate the complaint and if they find that the landlord discriminated against the individual, the landlord may be fined or required to take corrective action.

What Can a Landlord do if an ESA Becomes a Problem?

If an ESA becomes a problem, the landlord may be able to require that the owner find another place to live. If the problem is serious enough, the landlord may be able to evict them.

A landlord may request a tenant with an emotional support animal to vacate the premises for a number of reasons. The animal may be creating a disturbance, such as barking excessively or urinating inside the rental unit. The animal may also pose a threat to the safety of other tenants or the landlord's property. In some cases, the landlord may simply not allow pets on the premises. 

If the tenant does not comply with the landlord's request to remove the emotional support animal, the landlord may begin eviction proceedings.

If you have a tenant with an emotional support animal (ESA), there are a few things you need to know. First, the animal must be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional. Second, the animal must be trained to behave appropriately in public. Third, you cannot charge the tenant a pet deposit or pet rent for the animal.

As the landlord, you should also be aware of the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination against tenants with disabilities. This means that you cannot refuse to rent to a tenant with an ESA or treat them differently than other tenants.

If you have any questions or concerns about a tenant's ESA, you should contact a qualified attorney for guidance.

Table of Contents

What is an ESA?

Do ESAs Have to be Registered?

What Types of Animals Can Be Designated an ESA?

What Does and ESA Registration Mean?

What Rights Do Tenants with an ESA Have?

Is It Legal for a Landlord to Reject an ESA?

What Happens if a Landlord Rejects an ESA?

What Can a Landlord do if an ESA Becomes a Problem?


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