Although emotional support animals are no longer covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act, they are given a right to live in a rented residence under the Fair Housing Amendments Act.
The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects the rights of people who have emotional disabilities. This means that since emotional support animals are assistant aids and not the average pet, landlord’s must make a reasonable effort to provide housing for the animal and owner.
If a landlord has a “no pets” policy, the landlord is expected to allow that person to rent a property and allow the companion animal to live at the residence. As long as the animal doesn’t cause a financial or administrative problem for the landlord or the renter would need the home altered, they should be allowed to rent.
The exceptions to the Fair Housing Amendments Act include building with four or less units where the landlord lives in one of the units, private owners who do not own more than three single family houses, and landlord’s who accept Section 8 housing. Any federally subsidized housing that does not fall under Section 8 guidelines, such as public or subsidized housing, must make a reasonable effort to rent under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
If you’re attempting to rent a dwelling and none of the above apply, then your emotional support animal should be allowed to live with you. It helps to tell your potential landlord that you’ll keep your animal under control at all times, and that your animal has good manners when out in public.
One thing you must be able to prove is that you have need of an emotional support animal. The Federal Housing Act defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of a person’s major life activities. You must have a record of such an impairment, which means you’ll need a health professional to write a letter stating you having an emotional disability.
There are several online sites where you can register your emotional support animal.
*Register My Service Animal, LLC ($79.95)
*Free My Paws ($149.95)
*NSAR (National Service Animal Registry) $64.95
If you believe you’ve been discriminated against, and the landlord refuses to rent to you, it may be necessary to take legal action. This can be done by filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). You may also want to contact your local Department of Civil Rights and describe how you were refused rental. Finally, you may file a lawsuit in state or federal court within one year of the date you were refused a rental agreement.
There are many sources available on the topic of emotional support animals. Just Google the topic for more in-depth information.