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What Landlords Need to Know About Emotional Support Animals

A businessman who’s into real estate leasing, particularly residential units rental, normally protects their properties from tremendous depreciation. This is why it is normal for them to screen their prospective tenants, and one of those that they usually refuse to entrust their property are families with pets.

When dealing with lessor or landlords, there is a certain warning sign for them once their lesse owns an animal. They immediately overthink that dogs and cats can cause real problems to their rental property, more than what a human tenant could do.

Owning an animal doesn’t only mean you just simply want to take care of one. Sometimes, it's a form of therapy for a sick person and is recommended by their doctors. This is called an assistance animal.

As a lessor, you don’t usually know at first negotiation as to why your lessee has a pet. Your tenant might just fail or refused to disclose that their dog is not merely a pet, but an assistance animal. As a lessor, how do you deal with it?

Written below are five facts landlords should know about assistance animals:

Letter from a Licensed Therapist is Needed

What is an emotional support animal? Emotional support animal (ESO) or simply a support animal, is a companion animal that a medical professional suggests providing good benefits to a person with health problems.

Most people who aren’t in the medical field are not aware that prior to owning an emotional support animal, one must undergo a thorough process involving a medical practitioner and a patient. A licensed therapist is required to prepare and submit a letter detailing the condition of a patient and why does he suggest a support animal.

The diagnosis must be concurrent to the ones defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V). The manual states different health conditions which may qualify a sick person to have a support animal. Most common types of conditions are those undergoing depression, PTSD, and with bipolar disorder.

Fair Housing Act about ESAs

Fair Housing Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act protects a person with a disability from any discrimination that may not allow them to have their support animal in a home, whether that home is owned or rented. In this act, a lesson with a “no pet” policy on the properties offered for lease has no right to refuse a tenant with support animal from renting the place. This federal legislation states that a housing should not be limit based on several factors including color, national origin, race, and disability. It involves a disabled individual’s right to bring home a support animal.

Aside from this, there are also a lot of other sources wherein they discuss deeper regarding Landlords and their rights when it comes to people with ESA as well as things you need to know about the Fair Housing Act No Deposits for ESAHere’s another important detail for landlords who might encounter having a tenant with a disability. If pets cannot be prohibited, some lessor requires an additional deposit for pets in case they may break something in the property. For a person with an ESA, they are waived for this rental deposit and other fees that may be required relating to the animal they have. Tenants have the right to not disclose their disability to their Landlords

This is why a landlord might not be fully aware of their lessee’s condition. A patient with ESA isn’t liable to the lessor to disclose in detail their physical condition.

Although for other instances, one can legally be required to provide a full documentation of their disability and the reason for an ESA, this does not apply to the lessor’s rights. Privacy is also a person’s right, so they may keep the full information between them and their care provider on why there’s a need for an ESA.

Limitations of ESA

Aside from the benefits and rules protecting an ESA, there are also limitations for them. And this limitations should be well-known and followed by a person with an ESA.

One example that both the landlord and a prospective tenant should know is that those lessors who own less than three rental units can opt not to accommodate a tenant with an ESA along with them. This is in support of the FHA guidelines.

Be a Friendly Landlord.

To sum up everything, it's still the best attitude if a landlord is compassionate with their tenants, regardless if they’re undergoing a medical treatment or not.

Caring for your tenants and showing emotional support especially to those with ESA can greatly help in the healing process of an individual. Not only will you be an instrument of their healing, but it gives a greater meaning in your life knowing you are capable to help. Source: Manning, Kate. "5 Facts Landlords Need To Know About Emotional Support Animals." Realty Times. 30 May 2018.


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