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Landlord’s Rights Regarding Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs

Landlord’s Rights Regarding Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs

Anup 12 March 29, 2023
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USA Service Dog Registration is committed to helping educate landlords about their rights as well as potential tenants or current tenants prescribed Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals. We want to help you to understand how you can verify a letter without violating the Fair Housing Act (a federal law that protects people from discrimination when they are renting, buying, or securing financing for any housing).

The FHA Prohibits Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities

It is unlawful for a housing provider to refuse to rent or sell to a person simply because of a disability.

A housing provider may not impose a different application or qualification criteria for those with mental or physical disabilities.

The rental fees, sales price, or rental terms or conditions cannot differ from those required by non-disabled persons.

What could happen if Landlord or Management Company violates the Fair Housing Act (FHA)?

When a person with a disability believes that they have been subjected to a discriminatory housing practice, including a provider’s wrongful denial of a request for reasonable accommodation, they may file a complaint with HUD within one year after the alleged denial or may file a lawsuit in a federal district court within two years of the alleged denial. If a complaint is filed with HUD, HUD will investigate the complaint at no cost to the person with a disability.

If their case goes to an administrative hearing, HUD attorneys will litigate the case on their behalf. An Administrative Law Judge (ALA) will consider evidence from them and the respondent. If the ALA decides that discrimination occurred, the respondent can be ordered:

  • To compensate for damages, including humiliation, pain and suffering.
  • To provide injunctive or other equitable relief.
  • To pay the Federal Government a civil penalty to vindicate the public interest. The maximum penalties are $16,000 for a first violation and $70,000 for a third violation within seven years.
  • To pay reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

What if the ESA is a “restricted breed animal.” Is it still considered and an ESA or Service Dog?

According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), “breed, size, and weight limitations may not be applied to an assistance animal.”

Instead, a housing provider may only determine if the specific assistance animal in question poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others.

This determination of a “direct threat” must be based on “individualized assessment that relies on objective evidence about the specific animal’s actual conduct.” It may not be based on fears about a certain type of animal or evidence from damage done by previous animals of the same type.

For example, if a dog has been previously declared a dangerous dog, this may indicate that the dog poses a direct threat in an individualized assessment. However, breed alone will not result in this determination.

Landlord is concerned “restricted breed” emotional support dog or service dog might make cause for insurance to increase or canceled.

Could the owner’s emotional support dog breed be a liability?

An insurance company may label certain breeds of dogs as “dangerous” in its policy. Each reasonable accommodation determination must be made on a case-by-case basis. An accommodation is considered unreasonable if it imposes an undue financial and administrative burden on a housing provider’s operations.

If a housing provider’s insurance carrier would cancel, substantially increase the costs of the insurance policy, or adversely change the policy terms because of the presence of a certain breed of dog or a certain animal, HUD will find that this imposes an undue financial and administrative burden on the housing provider.

This claim must then be substantiated with the insurance company directly and comparable insurance coverage must be considered. If the insurance company has a policy that does not have an exception for an assistance animal, an investigation may be launched against the insurance company for potential disability discrimination.

12 Replies to “Landlord’s Rights Regarding Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs”

  1. Who can I contact about a motel that wanted to charge me $250 deposit for my emotional support dog that is registered through your website? It’s not the letter but I have a certificate from your website

    1. Hi Candy,
      ESA’s don’t have full access rights like a service animal. Only trained service animals have full access rights at hotels and motels. And in order for your ESA to be legit you are going to need a medical recommendation letter from Dr or Therapist.

      1. So an ESA dog being in a hotel with me doesn’t allow the hotel to charge me an additional rate if I have a therapist or dr note?

        1. Hi Cheryl, only service dogs have full access at a hotel ESA’s are only protected under Fair Housing Act which would be a long term rental.

  2. Can a management company tell me that I’m not allowed to bring my service dog with me to visit a relative of mine that is renting a house from them? I miss visiting my daughter and grandchildren.

    1. Hi Jray, if you have a fully trained service dog assisting with you with a disabilty he can’t deny you access.

  3. I was looking for a section 8 house and had a meeting with the owner of the house. Introduce my dog and myself he said he would get back with me. I finally called back two days later. He told me he was not going to rent to me because of my dog.

    1. Hi Stanley call our customer service line at 760-283-7783 and a representative will call you back with any information you need.

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