Can a Landlord Charge a Pet Deposit for an Emotional Support Animal? Your Expert Guide

Emotional support animals are highly beneficial animal companions, and they are a necessary help for many individuals who need support due to certain conditions.

Many individuals need to live with their emotional support animals to receive the full benefits of their presence, but broaching this subject can be stressful if you aren’t too sure what your rights are regarding emotional support animals and housing.

Our article gives you all the information you need to know regarding living with your emotional support animal and when a landlord might be able to charge you pet deposits.

What Are Emotional Support Animals?

Emotional support animals (ESAs) are animals that provide comfort and support to their human companions through their presence and the routine that caring for them provides.

Many individuals with mental health conditions like chronic stress, anxiety, or depression find that their emotional support animal helps to relieve their symptoms and makes their daily lives more manageable.

Because the presence of an emotional support animal can be so helpful, it’s important that individuals with emotional support animals keep their companions by their sides whenever possible.

Emotional Support Animals Versus Service Dogs

Emotional support animals differ from service dogs in that ESAs are not trained to help with a specific set of disability-related tasks like service dogs are.

Instead, emotional support animals help their owners and provide support with their presence; emotional support animals are not granted the same wide-reaching public access rights because of this, though there are protections in place to ensure that individuals can live with their emotional support animal.

Your Emotional Support Animal Housing Rights

While emotional support animals have more limited protections than trained service dogs, they are still granted several rights on a federal level that allow individuals who need an ESA to live with their companion animal without facing discrimination.

The main regulation that protects emotional support animals is the Fair Housing Act. This federal regulation states that any individual is entitled to fair and suitable housing regardless of disability and that a disability or other factors such as race and sexual orientation are not allowable as reasons for denial of housing.

Within the Fair Housing Act, it states that any individual with a service dog or an emotional support animal is allowed to request accommodations to bring their animal into their building, house, or apartment unit with them – housing complex or landlord policies that don’t allow pets or put breed restrictions into place do not apply to emotional support animals.

In order to obtain a housing accommodation and ensure you live with your emotional support animal, you will need to show a letter to your landlord or rental agency that states your need for an emotional support animal. All reasonable accommodations must be approved, and then you will be able to live with your ESA in your chosen housing.

Keep in mind that landlords are not allowed to charge you pet rent, extra pet fees, or pet deposits for your ESA, as this does fall under the realm of discrimination, as according to the Fair Housing Act. However, if your emotional support animal causes destruction or otherwise damages the area you live in, you will likely be required to pay for these damages and repairs.

Do Emotional Support Animals Have Public Access Protections?

Emotional support animals differ from service animals, and they don’t have the same public access protections. While you can take a service dog into most stores, restaurants, and other public locations, you cannot do the same for an emotional support animal.

ESAs only have protected housing rights, though you can bring them with you into public spaces that have policies accepting pets in certain areas.

Can Landlords Charge Pet Deposits for ESAs?

Landlords are not allowed to charge pet deposits for emotional support animals, as pet deposits, fees, and pet rent fall under the classification of discrimination according to the Fair Housing Act.

Individuals who need to live with their emotional support animals are doing so to help relieve the symptoms of a disability; charging them for the presence of their ESA, which they require, is discriminatory.

What Is My Landlord Allowed to Charge for My Emotional Support Animal?

While your landlord or rental agency can’t charge you for pet deposits, pet fees, or monthly pet rent, you may find yourself needing to pay certain charges if your emotional support animal is destructive or damages your unit in any way.

If your ESA isn’t properly house-trained, you may also be on the hook for any damages or soiling of the apartment or house your emotional support animal causes.

FAQS About Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals and your rights with these companion animals are confusing, which is why we’ve gathered frequently asked questions about ESAs and answered them below. Read through and put any remaining worries about emotional support animals to rest.

When Might a Landlord Deny My Emotional Support Animal?

Landlords rarely deny emotional support animal accommodations, as doing so goes against the federal Fair Housing Act. However, your emotional support animal might be denied in specific cases, such as when your ESA is out of control and dangerous to others, when they are incredibly destructive to the property, or when the accommodations requested are not reasonable.

Examples of ESA accommodations that aren’t reasonable include keeping very large animals in a studio apartment that cannot fit them, keeping exotic animals in a housing unit that isn’t conducive to their care, or having many emotional support animals that cannot be properly cared for on the property.

Where Can I Take My Emotional Support Animal?

Emotional support animals have limited access rights in public, as they are not trained like service dogs are to help with specific disability-related tasks. You can take your emotional support animal anywhere pets or animals are allowed to exist in public, and you also have the right to live with your emotional support animal in any suitable housing of your choice.

Do I Need to Identify My Emotional Support Animal?

You don’t need to identify your emotional support animal with vests, a marked leash, or documentation, as this is not required by federal or state law.

The only thing you will need to provide when requesting accommodations for your housing is a letter that meets your state’s standards for emotional support animal documentation. This letter stating your need for an emotional support animal is how you will obtain the accommodated housing you need as protected by the Fair Housing Act.

How Do I Get an Emotional Support Animal Letter?

Emotional support animal letters are an essential step in obtaining the housing accommodations you need for you and your companion animal.

States may have differing rules on what is required to be included in an emotional support animal letter, and you may find that you need to have a relationship with your licensed mental health care provider for at least thirty days before they can grant you a letter.

Make sure to look at your state’s specific rules and work with your doctor or mental health care provider to ensure you are completing all of the proper steps to receive your ESA housing letter.

Where Do I Learn More About My Emotional Support Animal Rights?

If you have more questions about your emotional support animal rights, or if you believe your ESA housing rights have been violated, you can consult the Fair Housing Act for more specific details.

You may also need to reach out to a lawyer who specializes in disability accommodations for more information on ensuring you receive the emotional support animal rights granted to you under federal regulations.

Keeping Your Companion Animal by Your Side

Keeping your companion animal by your side is essential when you depend on the comfort and support of an emotional support animal. Fortunately, the Fair Housing Act protects your housing rights and the right to live with your emotional support animal without being charged for pet rent, pet deposits, or pet fees.

Make sure you are familiar with specific state laws regarding emotional support animal letters and your general housing rights, and you will be sure to live anywhere with your emotional support animal as stress-free as possible.