Can Landlord Say No to Emotional Support Dog

Landlords have the right to restrict pets in their properties, but they cannot discriminate against tenants with disabilities. This means that landlords cannot say no to a tenant’s emotional support dog if the dog is necessary for the tenant’s disability. The Fair Housing Act protects tenants with disabilities from discrimination, and this includes the right to have an emotional support animal. If a landlord refuses to allow a tenant to have an emotional support dog, the tenant can file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Rights of Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals (ESAs) offer comfort and companionship to individuals with disabilities or mental health conditions, helping them lead more independent and fulfilling lives. ESAs possess specific rights under federal and state laws. Understanding these rights is crucial for both individuals seeking ESA accommodations and housing providers tasked with upholding these rights.

Assistance Animals vs. Pets

  • ESAs are considered assistance animals under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), just like service animals.
  • Unlike service animals, ESAs do not need to be trained for specific tasks but must provide emotional support.
  • ESAs offer comfort and security, reducing anxiety, depression, and other symptoms.

ESA Rights Under Federal Law

  • Landlords cannot refuse to rent to tenants with ESAs.
  • Landlords cannot charge pet fees or deposits for ESAs.
  • Landlords must permit ESAs in common areas.
  • Landlords cannot impose breed or size restrictions on ESAs.
  • Tenants with ESAs have the right to reasonable accommodations, such as allowing the ESA to live on the premises.

ESA Rights Under State Law

  • State laws vary in terms of ESA rights.
  • Some states require landlords to accept ESAs without a doctor’s note.
  • Other states require landlords to accept ESAs with a doctor’s note.
  • Some states have laws that specifically protect ESAs in housing.

Steps to Obtain an ESA

  1. Consult a healthcare professional to determine if an ESA is appropriate.
  2. Obtain a letter from the healthcare professional stating the need for an ESA.
  3. Provide the letter to the landlord or housing provider.
  4. Work with the landlord to determine reasonable accommodations, if necessary.


ESAs play a vital role in supporting individuals with disabilities or mental health conditions, offering comfort and companionship. Federal and state laws protect the rights of ESA owners, ensuring they can access appropriate housing without discrimination. Understanding these rights empowers individuals with ESAs to advocate for themselves and ensures housing providers comply with the law.

Fair Housing Act and Assistance Animals

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in housing based on several protected characteristics, including disability. Under the FHA, landlords are required to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, including allowing them to keep assistance animals in their housing.

The FHA defines an assistance animal as a dog or miniature horse that is trained to perform tasks for an individual with a disability. Tasks can include:

  • Guiding individuals who are blind or have low vision
  • Alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to sounds
  • Pulling a wheelchair
  • Picking up dropped items
  • Providing emotional support

Landlords cannot refuse to rent to an individual with a disability because they have an assistance animal. They also cannot charge extra fees or deposits for assistance animals.

Landlords are only allowed to ask two questions about an assistance animal:

  1. Is the animal a dog or miniature horse?
  2. What task is the animal trained to perform?

Landlords cannot ask about the individual’s disability or require documentation of the disability.

Landlords can only deny a request for an assistance animal if the animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others. The landlord must be able to show that the animal is likely to cause harm and that there is no reasonable accommodation that can be made to mitigate the threat.

If a landlord denies a request for an assistance animal, the individual can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Allowed QuestionsNot Allowed Questions
Is the animal a dog or miniature horse?What is your disability?
What task is the animal trained to perform?Can I see documentation of your disability?

Are Landlords Allowed to Deny Emotional Support Animals?

Landlords are generally not allowed to deny tenants who have a disability and need an emotional support animal (ESA). This is because ESAs are considered reasonable accommodations under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

Reasonable Accommodations for Emotional Support Animals

In order to be considered a reasonable accommodation, an ESA must meet the following criteria:

  • The animal must be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional.
  • The animal must provide a direct therapeutic benefit to the individual with a disability.
  • The animal must be under the control of the individual with a disability.
  • The animal must not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are a few exceptions to the rule that landlords cannot deny ESAs. These exceptions include:

  • If the animal is too large or would cause damage to the property.
  • If the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
  • If the animal is not housebroken.
  • If the tenant has a history of neglecting or abusing animals.

How to Request an Emotional Support Animal

If you are a tenant who needs an ESA, you should follow these steps:

  1. Talk to your doctor or mental health professional about getting a prescription for an ESA.
  2. Write a letter to your landlord explaining your need for an ESA and attaching the prescription from your doctor or mental health professional.
  3. Be prepared to answer any questions that your landlord may have about your ESA.

If your landlord denies your request for an ESA, you can file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Landlord Responsibilities
Review and consider requests for emotional support animals
  • Ask for documentation from a qualified professional
  • Evaluate the request based on the Fair Housing Act (FHA)
Provide reasonable accommodations
  • Allow the emotional support animal to live on the premises
  • Waive pet fees or deposits for the emotional support animal
Protect the rights of other tenants
  • Address complaints about emotional support animals
  • Take action if an emotional support animal causes damage or poses a threat

Landlord’s Leeway: Navigating Emotional Support Animals

Understanding the Dynamics of Housing and Emotional Support Animals

Navigating the complexities of housing and emotional support animals requires a comprehensive understanding of the landlord’s rights and obligations. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) outlines specific guidelines that protect individuals with disabilities and their right to fair housing, including the accommodation of emotional support animals (ESAs) in housing settings.

Landlord’s Rights and Responsibilities

While landlords cannot outright deny housing to individuals with disabilities, they retain specific rights and responsibilities in addressing ESA requests:

  • Assessing the Legitimacy of ESA Requests: Landlords can request documentation from a healthcare professional attesting to the need for an ESA. This documentation must be current and tailored to the specific individual’s disability and the role of the ESA in mitigating symptoms.
  • Evaluating Requests on a Case-by-Case Basis: Landlords must evaluate ESA requests individually, considering the unique circumstances and needs of the person with a disability. Blanket policies or assumptions about ESAs are not permissible.
  • Prohibition of Breed or Size Restrictions: Landlords cannot impose breed or size restrictions on ESAs. However, they may inquire about the animal’s behavior and temperament to ensure it poses no direct threat to the health or safety of others.
  • Charging Reasonable Fees: Landlords may charge reasonable fees to cover the costs associated with accommodating an ESA, such as pet deposits or fees to offset any damages caused by the animal.
  • Addressing Nuisance or Safety Concerns: If an ESA poses a direct threat to others’ health or safety or causes substantial property damage, the landlord may take reasonable steps to address the issue. This may include imposing reasonable restrictions on the animal’s behavior or, in extreme cases, requesting its removal.
Landlord’s Obligations and Considerations
Landlord ObligationAdditional Considerations
Accommodate Reasonable ESA RequestsEvaluate requests individually
Provide Accessible HousingModifications for disability-related needs
Respect Privacy and ConfidentialityDo not disclose personal information
Charge Reasonable FeesMust be related to the cost of accommodation

In the event of a dispute regarding an ESA request, both landlords and individuals with disabilities can seek guidance from local housing authorities, fair housing organizations, or legal professionals specializing in housing discrimination.

Well, folks, that about wraps up our deep dive into the question: “Can Landlord Say No to Emotional Support Dog?” I hope this article has helped shed some light on the matter. Remember, rules and regulations can vary from state to state and municipality to municipality, so it’s always best to check your local laws and consult professionals as needed. Thanks for sticking with me through all the legal jargon and emotional support animal facts. If you have any more questions or just want to chat about adorable, cuddly creatures, be sure to visit again soon. Until then, take care and keep those furry friends close!