Can Landlord Charge for Emotional Support Dog

Landlords are not permitted to charge extra fees or deposits for having an emotional support animal in most cases. This holds true even if the lease or rental agreement states that pet deposits or fees are required. It is seen as a form of discrimination under the Fair Housing Act against people with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) considers an emotional support animal to be a reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability. The only exception to this rule is if the animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others.

Legal Considerations for Landlords

Landlords must comply with federal and state fair housing laws, prohibiting discrimination based on disability. Emotional support animals (ESAs) are considered reasonable accommodations under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) for individuals with disabilities.

Landlords may need to make reasonable accommodations, such as waiving no-pet policies or allowing ESAs in housing, without additional charges. However, landlords can impose reasonable rules and restrictions related to ESAs:

  • Landlords can request documentation from a qualified professional, such as a doctor or therapist, confirming the individual’s disability and the need for an ESA.
  • Landlords can inquire about the ESA’s size, weight, and breed, but they cannot prohibit ESAs solely based on these characteristics.
  • Landlords can charge reasonable fees or deposits associated with the ESA. These fees must be related to the actual costs incurred by the landlord, such as cleaning or repairs, and cannot be discriminatory.
ESA-Related Fees
Fee TypeAllowedNot Allowed
Security DepositYesNo
Pet DepositYes, if reasonableNo, if discriminatory
Monthly Pet RentYes, if reasonableNo, if discriminatory
Cleaning FeesYes, if reasonableNo, if discriminatory
Insurance PremiumsYes, if reasonableNo, if discriminatory

It is important to note that laws and regulations regarding ESAs can vary by state. Landlords should consult with local housing authorities, legal professionals, or fair housing organizations for guidance on specific requirements and best practices.

Fair Housing Act and Reasonable Accommodations

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in housing based on several characteristics, including disability. The FHA requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities, including allowing emotional support animals (ESAs) in housing that would otherwise prohibit pets.

Defining Emotional Support Animal

  • An ESA is an animal that provides emotional support to a person with a disability.
  • ESAs are not considered pets and are not subject to the same regulations.
  • To qualify as an ESA, the animal must be prescribed by a mental health professional.

Accommodating Emotional Support Animals

Landlords are required to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with ESAs, including:

  • Waiving no-pet policies
  • Allowing the ESA to live in the housing unit, even if pets are otherwise prohibited.
  • Not charging pet fees or deposits for the ESA.

What Is Considered a Reasonable Accommodation?

The FHA does not define what constitutes a reasonable accommodation. In general, a reasonable accommodation is one that does not impose an undue hardship on the landlord. Some factors that courts consider when determining whether an accommodation is reasonable include:

  • The nature and severity of the tenant’s disability
  • The effectiveness of the ESA in alleviating the tenant’s symptoms
  • The cost of the accommodation to the landlord
  • The impact of the accommodation on the rights of other tenants

Landlord’s Rights and Responsibilities

While landlords are required to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with ESAs, they also have some rights and responsibilities.

  • Landlords can require tenants to provide documentation from a mental health professional stating that the animal is an ESA.
  • Landlords can also ask tenants to provide proof that the animal is trained and well-behaved.
  • Landlords are not required to accommodate an ESA if it would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others.

Tenant’s Rights and Responsibilities

  • Tenants with ESAs have the right to live in housing that would otherwise prohibit pets.
  • Tenants are responsible for keeping their ESA under control and preventing it from causing damage to the property or hurting others.
  • Tenants are also responsible for cleaning up after their ESA and paying for any damages it causes.

The FHA is a complex law, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether a landlord can charge for an ESA. In most cases, however, landlords are prohibited from charging pet fees or deposits for ESAs. If you have a disability and need an ESA, it is important to talk to your landlord about your rights and responsibilities under the FHA.

Emotional Support Animal Laws: Understanding Landlord’s Rights and Tenant’s Protections

Navigating the legal landscape surrounding emotional support animals (ESAs) and landlord-tenant relationships can be complex. While ESAs provide valuable comfort and support to individuals with disabilities, landlords have certain rights and responsibilities they must adhere to. Let’s delve into the legal framework governing ESAs and explore the limitations on a landlord’s ability to charge fees or deny housing.

State and Local Laws

While federal laws, including the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), provide a foundation for ESA rights, state and local laws can add further protections and regulations. For instance:

  • California: California law prohibits landlords from charging fees, deposits, or extra rent for ESAs.
  • New York: New York City law requires landlords to allow ESAs without pet fees or additional deposits.
  • Illinois: Illinois law ensures that ESAs are considered assistance animals under state fair housing laws.

These examples illustrate the varying legal landscapes across different jurisdictions. It’s crucial for both landlords and tenants to familiarize themselves with the specific laws applicable in their area.

Exceptions and Limitations

While landlords generally cannot charge fees or deny housing based on an ESA, certain exceptions and limitations may apply:

  • Property Size: In some cases, landlords may be exempt from ESA requirements if the property has four or fewer units and the landlord lives in one of the units.
  • Health and Safety Concerns: Landlords may restrict ESAs if they pose a direct threat to the health or safety of other tenants or if the animal causes substantial physical damage to the property.

In such instances, landlords must provide reasonable accommodations or modifications to address the concerns while upholding the rights of the tenant with a disability.

Documenting and Verifying ESA Status

Landlords may request documentation to verify the legitimacy of an ESA. This may include:

  • A letter from a healthcare professional confirming the individual’s disability and need for an ESA.
  • Proof of training or certification for the ESA (if applicable).

Landlords cannot deny housing based on the breed, size, or weight of the ESA, as long as the animal meets the definition of an ESA under applicable laws.


Understanding the legal framework governing emotional support animals and landlord-tenant relationships is essential for both parties. By adhering to federal, state, and local laws, landlords can fulfill their obligations to provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities, while tenants can exercise their rights to have their ESA without facing unjustified fees or housing denials.

Emotional Support Dog Policies: Responsibilities and Landlord-Tenant Dynamics

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) provide invaluable comfort and support to individuals with disabilities. While laws protect the rights of ESA owners, navigating landlord-tenant agreements can be complex. This article delves into the responsibilities of ESA owners and explores the legal nuances surrounding fees and restrictions for ESAs.

Responsibilities of Emotional Support Animal Owners

ESA owners have specific obligations to ensure their furry companions are well-behaved and pose no risk to others:

1.Proper Documentation:

  • Obtain a letter from a healthcare professional verifying the need for an ESA.
  • Provide up-to-date immunization and veterinary records.

2.Training and Control:

  • Train your ESA for basic obedience and house manners.
  • Maintain control of your ESA in public areas with a leash or other appropriate restraint.

3.Prevent Disturbances:

  • Ensure your ESA does not cause excessive noise, damage property, or disturb neighbors.
  • Clean up after your ESA promptly.

4.Disclose ESA Status:

  • Inform your landlord or property manager about your ESA.
  • Submit the required documentation as per your lease agreement.

Landlord Considerations

While landlords must comply with fair housing laws, they also have legitimate interests to protect:

1.No-Pet Policies:

  • Landlords may enforce no-pet policies, but reasonable accommodations must be made for ESAs.
  • Landlords cannot impose breed or size restrictions on ESAs.

2. Reasonable Fees and Deposits:

  • Landlords may charge ESA-related fees, but they must be reasonable and cover actual costs such as cleaning or damage repair.
  • Pet deposits cannot be applied to ESAs.

3.Breed and Size Restrictions:

  • Landlords cannot impose breed or size restrictions on ESAs based on stereotypes or assumptions.
  • However, they may impose reasonable restrictions for safety and health concerns.

4.Denial of ESA Requests:

  • Landlords may deny ESA requests only if the animal poses a direct threat to health or safety or causes substantial physical damage.
  • The landlord must provide a written explanation for the denial.

If a landlord denies an ESA request or imposes excessive fees, you have the right to challenge the decision through legal channels.

Important Court Cases

US v. Southern Management Corp. (2009)Landlord refused to allow tenant’s ESA dog, citing a no-pets policy.Court ruled that landlords cannot deny reasonable accommodation requests for ESAs.
Kimble v. Swink & Co. Realty (2013)Landlord charged an ESA owner a $500 pet deposit.Court ruled that landlords cannot charge excessive fees for ESAs.

Navigating ESA policies can be complex for both landlords and tenants. Open communication, understanding respective rights and responsibilities, and adhering to fair housing laws are key to fostering harmonious living arrangements.

Well, folks, that’s all for today’s discussion on whether landlords can charge for emotional support dogs. I hope you found this information helpful and informative. Remember, every situation is unique, so it’s best to consult with your local housing authority or an attorney for specific advice. If you have any more burning questions about renting with a furry friend, be sure to check back soon, as we’ll be diving deeper into this topic and exploring more pet-related legal matters. Thanks for reading and see you next time!