Can My Landlord Refuse My Emotional Support Animal?
No. Apartments and condominiums with no-pet policies are required to accept dogs and cats that are categorized as emotional support animals (ESAs). By law, a landlord must accept your ESA unless the animal is dangerous or destructive. As an aside, the law doesn’t apply to single family homes that are rented by an owner without a realtor.
What Proof Must I Give to My Landlord About My Emotional Support Animal?
You are required to give your landlord a letter from a medical professional, indicating that you require an emotional support animal. A landlord cannot refuse the letter because he thinks that the medical professional is an “internet” doctor, or he thinks the letter is a fake. So long as a medical professional actually spoke with you, and reached a decision that you need an ESA, the letter is legally sufficient. This is true even if the medical professional was hired off the internet, and never met with you in person.
What if I Don’t Get a Letter from a Medical Professional Authorizing an Emotional Support Animal until after I move my dog into my Apartment?
It’s not unusual for tenants to sneak their pet into their new apartment before getting a letter from a medical professional authorizing them to have an emotional support animal. Sometimes people get the feeling that a landlord won’t rent to them if they tell them about their pet. If you move an animal in without telling your landlord, and your landlord finds out about your pet, they can demand that you produce proof that you need the animal, or to get rid of it. So long as you subsequently get a letter from a medical professional confirming that you need an ESA, then you can keep the animal in your apartment. Although it’s preferred that you tell the landlord before moving the pet into your unit that you want to have a pet live with you, you don’t automatically lose the right to keep your pet simply because you did not disclose it. The issue is not “when” the pet was discovered, but whether a medical professional has confirmed that you need the ESA.
Can my landlord demand that I remove my dog from my unit because it barks and upsets other tenants?
A landlord cannot demand that you remove your dog simply because it barks. A landlord is required to reasonably accommodate your animal. The key word is “reasonably” accommodate. If you have a hound dog that barks day-and-night, then a landlord would certainly be within his right to ask you to correct the problem. He might require you to install an anti-barking device for your dog. This wouldn’t be an unreasonable request. If your dog barks incessantly, then you are required to compromise, and help alleviate the problem. Although you might not approve of such noise cancellation devices, a court would require it. A landlord could also request that your dog be trained, to help it stop barking. In short, an ESA is a two-way street: both sides have to work together if there is a problem. However, that’s not to say that landlords always get what they want. If your dog occasionally barks, but nothing out of the ordinary, then your landlord cannot demand silence from your dog. If you feel that your landlord is unreasonable claiming that your dog barks out of control, it would be very helpful to you to set up a camera in your unit, to film your dog while you are gone. This type of evidence is extremely persuasive, and can rebut the claim that your dog barks out-of-control.
Can my landlord ask me about my disability?
No. Your landlord is not allowed to ask why you need an emotional support animal, and what particular disability you suffer from which requires an emotional support animal. That is private information that your landlord is not entitled to learn. So long as a medical professional has written a letter indicating that you have a disability which requires help from an emotional support animal, then the landlord must accept this diagnosis, and is not allowed to ask about your medical condition.
Does my emotional support animal have to be trained?
No. You are not required to have your emotional support animal trained before moving it into your apartment. So long as a medical professional says that it is necessary for your emotional health, then your pet can live with you. No training required.
Is it legal for my landlord to increase my security deposit to cover my animal?
No. A landlord is not allowed to increase your security deposit if you get an emotional support animal.
If my dog attacks someone, can my landlord require that I get rid of it?
Typically, yes. If your dog attacks someone, you would almost certainly be required to remove the dog.