Can You Be Evicted With an Emotional Support Animal?

Emotional support animals (ESAs) continue to grow in popularity because they’re great for helping people manage mental health disorders. What’s more, emotional support animals are allowed in apartments that aren’t pet-friendly due to laws like the Fair Housing Act (FHA). That doesn’t mean you can call any animal an ESA and not get evicted. In fact, if your dog misbehaves or you don’t produce an ESA letter, it’s possible for you to get evicted by your landlord.

This article explores what an ESA is, what you need to live in housing that’s not pet-friendly, and how you can get evicted by a landlord. Read on to learn more about whether or not you can be evicted with an emotional support animal.

What Is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal can be any type of animal, and they help people manage mental health disorders like anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and much more. In fact, some ESAs can be trained to apply deep pressure therapy (DPT) to help keep their companions calm in the event of a panic attack.

Some federal acts like the Fair Housing Act (FHA) also protect emotional support animals. This prevents landlords from discriminating against people who have mental health disorders that require an ESA. All you need to live somewhere that’s not pet-friendly is a letter from a licensed mental health professional, known as an ESA letter.

ESA letters are available online, but you can also visit your therapist or healthcare provider for an ESA letter.

Who Qualifies for an Emotional Support Animal?

Emotional support animals are easy to qualify for if you have an ESA letter. The hard part of the process is getting an ESA letter. If you want to get one, you have to have a mental health disorder that qualifies for an ESA, and you need to be evaluated by a licensed mental health professional. From there, the licensed mental health professional also needs to write the letter and approve you for it.

Some common conditions that people can qualify for an ESA include:

  • Learning disorders
  • Tic disorders
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic disorders
  • Learning disabilities
  • ADD or ADHD
  • Motor skill problems
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Loneliness
  • Stress

Suffering from one or more of these conditions will help you qualify for an ESA. Once you are eligible and get an ESA letter, you don’t have to worry about any repercussions with your landlord regarding your ESA.

What’s the Difference Between an Emotional Support Animal and a Service Animal?

Service animals and ESAs are not the same thing and they’re protected by different laws. Emotional support animals are only protected under the FHA, and they can’t be taken out in public or on airlines like service dogs. What’s more, service dogs require years of advanced training and must perform a specific task for someone with a disability. Unlike ESAs, service dogs are also protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).

Can You Be Evicted with an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?

Yes, you can be convicted with an emotional support animal (ESA). These animals have protections under the FHA, but they have to be well-behaved, follow the rules, and not disturb other guests. Depending on where you live, the eviction rules may also differ. For example, New York’s ESA eviction laws might differ from Alabama’s or Nebraska’s. This is something to remember if you plan on adopting an ESA or bringing one into your home.

Can You Appeal an ESA Eviction?

Yes, you can appeal an ESA eviction. Landlords have a right to evict you if your ESA is breaking the rules, but only in the event that they’re breaking those rules. Therefore, you can submit a claim to the Department of Housing and Urban Development in your area to have your eviction investigated. The agency will conduct an investigation, and if they find any fraud or that your landlord was discriminating against you, the ruling can be reversed. When this happens, landlords usually have to pay fines as well.

Can a Service Dog Be Evicted?

An emotional support animal and service dog are not handled the same way by the law. Service dogs have more protections than ESAs, so it’s harder for landlords to remove them from an apartment. That said, service dogs can still be evicted if they don’t behave properly. Service dogs that harm other tenants or destroy property can also be evicted. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that any service dog you have is well-trained.

How You Can Be Evicted with an Emotional Support Animal

Emotional support animals have protection under the FHA, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to following rules ,and you can be evicted. Depending on how your dog behaves, your condition, and how your landlord handles their pet policies, it’s possible to be evicted with an ESA.

Learn about the most common ways that it can happen below.

Damage to Property

One of the biggest causes for eviction with an emotional support animal is damage to the property. This can damage inside the housing unit or anywhere else on the property. If your support animal is causing any kind of destruction, your landlord has the right to remove you and the dog. This can even happen if there is minor damage, so prevent your animal from chewing furniture, peeing on carpets, or damaging walls. Dogs that dig holes will also cause problems and can result in eviction, so we recommend some behavioral training for ESAs.

Danger to the Health and Safety of Other Tenants

You have a right to live somewhere with an ESA, but other tenants also have rights. If your ESA is dangerous, you can be evicted, and it doesn’t have to result from violence. For example, an ESA can be evicted for excessive growling, barking, or other actions that make other tenants uncomfortable. Biting, scratching, or chasing other tenants will also result in problems.

It’s also important to note that allergies can cause you to be evicted with an ESA. Other tenants who are allergic to your ESA can bring it to the attention of your landlord, and it can cause an eviction.

Noise Disturbances

A noisy emotional support animal won’t last long in a non-pet-friendly housing complex. Whether it’s a barking dog or a chirping bird, other tenants have a right to quiet after a certain time. If your ESA is getting too many noise complaints, there’s a good chance that your landlord can have you evicted. Make sure you train a dog not to bark, and consider getting a quiet ESA to avoid any problems.

Fraud or Not Having an ESA Letter

It’s a bad idea to lie about having an ESA letter. In fact, it’s considered fraud and can result in a fine that’s more than $500. Along with that fine, your landlord can remove you from the property, and you won’t be able to appeal it. Therefore, having an ESA letter when living somewhere that’s not pet-friendly is important. It doesn’t matter if you have ESA gear or a mental health disorder unless it’s proven with a letter.

Tips to Avoid Eviction With an ESA

While eviction is possible, that doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to happen. We recommend following some best practices to avoid getting evicted with an ESA. Learn more about some of our tips below.

Make Sure Your Emotional Support Dog Is Registered

It’s always a good idea to make sure your emotional support dog is registered and that all of your paperwork is in order. You need an ESA letter for your ESA to legally remain on the premises, so make sure you have one written and signed by a mental health professional. This is like your prescription for having an ESA.

Keep in mind that while an ESA prescription letter is legally required, an ESA registration is not. However, many people find that having your ESA registered with a legitimate service can help provide additional proof to a combative landlord that your ESA is valid and legally allowed to live with you.

Always Supervise Your Emotional Support Animal

Supervision is key when you have an emotional support animal. You need to have your eyes on them at all times to ensure that they don’t get into trouble, bother other tenants, or cause damage to the property. It’s also important to keep an eye on them in public areas and spaces to be respectful of other tenants. Ultimately, it’s a good idea to avoid letting them roam around without you watching them to avoid any risk of eviction due to something you didn’t see.

Manage Noise

You must manage your ESA noise levels if you want to avoid getting evicted. If you have a dog, make sure you have it trained tnot tobark at strangers. We also recommend socialization training to help your ESA be friendly around other tenants. If you don’t have an ESA that’s a dog, we recommend sticking to quiet animals that don’t make a lot of noise. Some good options include snakes, reptiles, and rodents. Cats can also be a good choice, but make sure they don’t meow too often or disturb your neighbors.

Choose the Right Companion

Most types of animals can be an ESA ,but that doesn’t mean every animal should be. If you want the least risk, we recommend registering a cat, dog, or small rodent as an ESA. These animals are the least likely to scare other tenants, and they’re easy to care for. What’s more, they’re not usually noisy, and you can train away any bad behaviors in a dog. We’re not saying that you can’t use a snake or lizard as an ESA; you’ll just have less of a risk with an animal that’s more commonly a pet.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal

The process for getting an emotional support animal (ESA) is relatively easy. It comes down to following a few key steps: applying for an ESA and waiting for your letter to arrive in the mail or by email. There are also a few ways you can go about this, but the best method is to apply for an ESA letter online.

To apply for an ESA letter online, you must start by providing information about yourself. You need to include your name, contact information, and the mental health disorder that you struggle with. From there, you need to include information about your ESA. This includes the type of animal, the breed, their height, and some other notable features.

The last step is to schedule a call with a licensed mental health professional. They will reach out to you, and they can determine if you’re suitable for an ESA. After your call, you only have to wait a few days for your ESA letter to arrive. Most online applications also include a PDF version of the letter so you can show it to your landlord sooner rather than later in order to prevent eviction.

Avoid Evictions With Your Emotional Support Animal

Emotional support animals are great for supporting and helping you overcome mental health disorders. Plus, they can alleviate stress and anxiety, as well as  help you feel more comfortable in unfamiliar areas. Regardless of why you need one, ESAs can live with you in otherwise not pet-friendly housing. As long as you follow the rules and ensure that your animal is friendly and respectful, you shouldn’t have any issues.

For this reason, we recommend training an emotional support dog if you have one to avoid barking or aggressive behaviors that might frighten neighbors. On the other hand, for other ESAs like cats, snakes, or other pets, it’s all about keeping your pet inside your home.

Make sure you also have your ESA letter handy in case your landlord asks for proof to avoid any complications.