Your landlord has denied your emotional support animal the right to live in your rental. Now what?
If being forced to give up your pet — an emotional support to you — is a scenario you can’t cope with, you may qualify for protection under federal fair housing laws, or, even better, your state’s fair housing laws.
You have rights and don’t have to go to court to prove housing rules allow you to have an emotional support pet, be it a dog, a cat, a bird or a goat. You can file a complaint with your state’s agency that oversees housing, or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
For those without an obvious disability such as a missing limb or blindness, however, the requirements of these laws present a complex maze of rules and regulations with serious hurdles. You must clearly explain why the landlord’s rules that prohibit your emotional support pet in your rental are illegally discriminating against you.
Here’s what you need to know.
QUESTION: WHAT IS AN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL?
ANSWER: Ask anyone who has a furry, feathered or scaly friend on their screensaver, pets are an important part of the family. Increasingly, laws are being written to recognize another part of a bond with pets. Some of these pets are life-savers — they make it so their owners can perform the daily activities of life.
Traditionally, seeing-eye dogs have been regarded as the only kind protected by law for helping humans perform these functions of daily living. But animals that address at least one symptom or effect of an emotional disability are commonly known as emotional support animals. Under the federal Fair Housing Act, these animals — and their owners — also enjoy special protection from landlords’ pet-related rules.
As a result, any qualified, disabled person requiring an emotional support animal is eligible to live with his or her pet in housing with rules limiting or prohibiting pets.
QUESTION. HOW DOES MY PET QUALIFY FOR LEGAL PROTECTION?
ANSWER: The change in laws can be attributed to research that has shown that the owner-pet bond can remedy many psychological, mental and emotional disabilities just like prescription medicine you pick up at the drugstore.
Unlike a seeing-eye dog, though, these disabilities are not easily identifiable. Many of our clients, for example, suffer from PTSD, which keeps them from sleeping. And the emotional support animal helps them sleep so they can function every day.
But, since insomnia due to PTSD is not as obvious as not being able to see, your landlord may be skeptical and think you are simply trying to skirt the rental rules.
But the law recognizes the importance of this kind of “medicine.” Instead of a script, though, you need an emotional support animal letter that:
- Is written by a mental health professional. (Licensed? Certified?)
- Contains the correct wording.
- Verifies your disability.
- Explains how your assistance animal addresses your disability.
Presented with such a letter, landlords who respect fair housing rules will allow your pet.
Through its experience filing hundreds of complaints, ESAD has identified 10 critical elements that verify one’s disability and one’s need for a disability assistance animal.
If you need a correctly worded emotional support animal letter, click here.
QUESTION: WHAT DO I DO IF MY LANDLORD REFUSES TO RESPECT THE LETTER EXPLAINING MY DISABILITY AND NEED FOR AN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL?
ANSWER: The next step is filing a complaint with the agency that oversees housing in your state or HUD.
Fair housing complaints are affected by three factors:
- Where do you live?
- How complex is your situation?
- How many complaints are ahead of you?
These complaints can take months to resolve. So, for those in a time crunch, we have found that that going ahead with a filing a complaint, along with a letter asking the landlord to reconsider does the trick. The official complaint can be filed and withdrawn without any cost to you.
Effective persuasion in both the complaint and the letter to your landlord with a copy of the complaint is critical. You need to address the situation using fair housing logic. In our experience, a correctly phrased ESA letter and a fair housing complaint often results in landlords making accommodations for the pet.
Our exclusive service provides letters customized to your situation. These letters are intended to educate landlords and demonstrate what the costs could be to them for denying a legitimate request for fair housing accommodations.
If you are looking to change the mind of your landlord who unfairly denied your ESA accommodation request, please click here.
QUESTION: WHAT CAN I EXPECT IN THE COMPLAINT PROCESS?
ANSWER: Luckily, the federal government moved the entire complaint process outside the court system to keep it from becoming accessible to only those who can afford a lawyer.
Unfortunately, only a small number of complaints actually get investigated. However, we have mastered the “secret sauce” — the formula for writing, filing and negotiating a settlement of your complaint of how a landlord’s denial of your emotional support animal has violated your civil rights.
We strongly suggest completing our no-cost, discrimination complaint questionnaire. Packed full of invaluable information, our self-help guide provides an excellent roadmap for those thinking of filing a complaint.
Landlord Deny Your ESA (Assistance Animal)?
Did your apartment deny your emotional support animal? Thinking of filing a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)?
Do you know even where to start? Should you even start? Do you have any idea where to go from here?
Get a free analysis today.
ESA Housing Discrimination
Are you confused, wonder how to deal with this situation? Are you hoping, with just the right “motivation,” your landlord may be willing to agree to your accommodation request.
Often, people may have a viable basis for a housing discrimination complaint, but incorrectly believe crafting/filing a complaint requires a lawyer’s assistance. As a result, concerns over legal fees may keep some from following through with their claim.
Fortunately, our Complaint Builder service helps fill in this gap.