Animals can do a lot for the humans in their lives. From giving someone daily structure because they require walks and feeding to providing companionship and affection, animals enrich the lives of the people who keep them.
However, animals can also damage someone’s property and cause nuisances for other people nearby with their sounds, odors and allergens, like dander. In order to accommodate as many different people as possible and minimize damage to their property, many landlords either don’t allow pets at all or charge extra fees to those who keep animals.
Landlords do have an obligation to accommodate tenants who have certified disability service animals without charging them extra for doing so. Do landlords have the same obligation to accommodate their tenants when it comes to emotional support animals (ESAs)?
Landlords should accommodate valid emotional support animals
For people with conditions like anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, an emotional support animal can make a world of difference. ESAs can reduce stress, prevent major meltdowns and even help people handle difficult social environments.
Provided that there is a valid medical reason for a tenant to have an ESA, landlords should try to accommodate them. Unfortunately, there have been quite a few people abusing the privileges extended to emotional support animals for selfish purposes.
People have tried to claim everything from peacocks to alligators as emotional support animals. Many people who claim to have an ESA really just have a pet and a certificate from a therapist that they purchased online. That certificate is not documentation from a medical professional with whom they have a bona fide relationship.
Both landlords and tenants need to document their side of an ESA dispute
If you are a tenant whose landlord does not want to accommodate a valid emotional support animal, you may need to take legal action to assert your rights. Alternatively, if you are a landlord whose tenant is making an unjustified demand about keeping an ESA, you may need to put your foot down to protect your property.
Before you take any legal action, it is advisable to speak in depth with someone who understands the nuances of these potentially complex situations. This will help you avoid making a mistake that could have legal or financial repercussions.