Renters And Emotional Support Animals: Understand Your Rights

You find the perfect apartment just minutes from work. Plenty of space, lots of windows and a price point that fits your budget. Everything looks great until you discover the rental has a “no pets” policy. And your pet isn’t just any pet, she’s an emotional support animal who’s been by your side for years and there’s no way you’re moving without her, no matter how great the deal or location. Is there anything you can do?

Landlords May Not Know the Importance of Emotional Support Animals

Most landlords who have a “no pets” policy aren’t necessarily not animal lovers, they just want to protect their investment and ensure tenants have a peaceful environment. Help educate your future landlord with this important information about the need for an emotional support animal.

Physical well-being impacts emotional well-being.

Harvard University studies have shown that petting a dog decreases blood pressure, and have correlated dog ownership with lower triglyceride levels. Walking a dog increases physical activity, which correlates with an increase in endorphins. Improving these health metrics creates a less stressful environment which helps to decrease depressive symptoms.

Depression and anxiety can create social isolation.

Exercise, grooming and vet care are necessary elements of owning a pet. These necessities mean getting out and about which can lead to interactions with other people. Dogs, especially, are naturally social and draw people into interaction with their owners. Walking the dog or going to the groomer offers purpose and socialization and makes it easier for the pet owner to start up a dialogue. This decreased social isolation helps reduce the impact of depression and anxiety.

People with depression and anxiety live with low self-esteem.

An emotional support animal helps improve self-esteem which leads to a better quality of life. A study conducted by Dr. McConnell of Miami University revealed that pet owners have higher self-esteem and decreased levels of anxiety than those without pets. Emotional support animals not only help decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety, but they can also be a part of the healing process as self-esteem improves.

When Awareness and Education Don’t Sway Landlords, You Still Have Options

The best option for coming to an agreement with a landlord who isn’t swayed by your efforts to educate should be communicating about emotional support animal laws. Here are some points you’ll need to know to have a productive and agreeable conversation.

  • Emotional support animals provide therapeutic support and are protected under the Fair Housing Act. This means that a landlord can’t require a deposit or free for your pet and can’t require specific training.
  • Service animals perform a necessary medical service and are protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act and these pet owners will rarely encounter any resistance from potential landlords, pet policy or not.
  • Landlords with a “no pets” policy will often require a signed emotional support animal letter from your doctor stating the necessity of your pet. They can also request proof that your pet is parasite-free, immunized and otherwise in good health.
  • Be aware that even with protective laws, landlords are only required to make reasonable accommodations and may deny animals for a variety of reasons.

Some reasons for denial could be the absence of an emotional support animal letter, destructive or threatening animals, large animals, and illegal breeds or species.

Hopefully, a conversation with your prospective landlord about the need for emotional support animals and how they provide support will get you into that perfect apartment. If not, you have legal recourse which should make a landlord rethink their position and be more receptive to working out an agreement.

Author Bio: Heidi is a Thiel writer and content creator who focuses on valuable guides for seniors, veterans, and disabled individuals. You can currently find her work over at TurboTenant, and view the full guide to emotional support animal laws for more information.