Is it Legal for a Landlord to Deny Me an Emotional Support Animal?

It is important to know that pets that provide people with comfort have housing rights that are different from those of other animals. In fact, the law has a special name for these pets — Emotional Support Animals (ESAs). ESAs are trained to help aid their owners with emotional or mental disabilities. Simply put, it is illegal for a landlord to deny your ESA as part of your tenancy in the apartment or home.

Know Your Rights

Under our country’s federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) laws, ESAs must be allowed access to apartments with “no pet” policies. Moreover, ESAs are exempt from any pet-related fees imposed by a landlord. If you believe you are ready to qualify for an ESA letter, be sure to speak with your treating mental health professional right away.

Often times it is more challenging to provide a landlord with notice of an ESA than an airline. This is because most landlords are not aware of the laws regarding ESAs. Despite the law being on your side, having to tell the landlord that you have an ESA can create added stress to you. Although you may be uncomfortable initially, it is important to stand up for your rights. For example, landlords may pressure you to reveal sensitive information such as your medical records or history. Be aware that this is illegal and in violation of  FHA standards.

What to do if You Get Pushback

If a landlord refuses to accept your ESA or persists on asking for information he or she is not entitled to, ask the landlord to put the rejection and/or demands in writing. Respond to the landlord, also in writing, informing him or her that you have provided all necessary information. Of note, this should include an ESA letter from an ESA doctor or licensed mental health professional. Let the landlord know that he or she is rejecting a reasonable accommodation request and that you will be filing a complaint with the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for discrimination of your disability. Then, contact a discrimination attorney right away.

When Landlords can Refuse ESAs

While the law is on your side when it comes to your rights regarding your ESA, there are some situations in which a landlord can legally reject your ESA. These include if:

  • The ESA is too large for the accommodation size of the living space;

  • The building has fewer than four units and the landlord resides in one of those units;

  • Property is a single-family home that was rented without the assistance of a realtor and the property owner owns fewer than three single-family homes;

  • Allowing the ESA in the unit causes an undue financial hardship to the landlord; and

  • The ESA causes any property damage or harms others in the building.

Contact an Attorney

If you have been hurt in an accident through no fault of your own in Las Vegas or anywhere else in Nevada, contact the skilled attorneys at Parry & Pfau today to schedule your initial case evaluation.

(image courtesy of Sarah Brown)