Emotional Support Animal

11 Replies

To quickly get my opinion out of the way, I think these things are generally a load of baloney...

Here is my situation. I manage a property where the tenant signed with the owner (a few months prior to me taking over) and understood the owner had a no pet policy in place in the Lease. Tenant signed the Lease. Once the tenant is in the property of course they request a dog (for emotional support due to their anxiety), owner says no...they later come up with a letter from a therapist (someone who has yet to return my calls) and in the letter it states according to the FEDERAL Fair Housing Act, you cannot prohibit someone with an ESA from living in the premises and having the animal. The NJ Law Against Discrimination also covers ESAs.

I would understand if the tenant were upfront about this prior to the Lease signing, because I would agree the owner or property manager cannot deny the person from renting the apartment. However, I know most people have a friend/family member who try this load of baloney to get a dog on a flight or in an apartment after the fact and the NJ LAD or Federal Fair Housing Act isn't specific regarding people requesting this AFTER they have already moved in. The owner is totally firm on not allowing pets and personally I think this is a grey area. 

Wanted to get the thoughts from the board on this situation. 

Not grey at all. Black and White. The owner does not have to like it and it may be a bunch of bull but the law says you have to allow the emotional support animal. You can stick with the no pets but since it an emotional support animal it is not considered a pet. Neither you or the owner want to have anything close to HUD investigation into this area.

I forgot to add that the tenant has resided in NJ the past two years but gave me a letter from a therapist in IL. I spoke to NJ Civil Rights Department and they felt that was extremely suspicious. 

Originally posted by @Kim Meredith Hampton :

Peter T. Here is the trick; the tenant with the ESA, have the doctor fill out your form, get their contact information, then you can send to them yourself. Not some site that gives them these for $25!!!!

I'm not sure what you're trying to say here Kim, can you please re-state? 

@Peter T. What @Kim Meredith Hampton was saying, get the contact information of their doctor from the tenant. Mail the form to the doctor and have the doctor fill out the form. If the tenant doesn't provide info or you don't get the form then don't allow the dog. Be careful with professional tenant. Good luck

The previous poster is correct that you may set a policy to use your docs which applies to anyone with an ESA but it should be a policy. check what your form can ask in NJ. In the end all you can do is require they get your form filled out and you can verify the real professional is recommending the animal not someone online with no relationship to the tenant. If they do this you are required without any pet deposit to take the animal but do talk to a lawyer to be sure what you can/Should do in the process.

@Tan Mehedi & @Colleen F. thank you. I discovered last night the tenant got this "letter" from a website where you pay a couple bucks and get someone to "assess" you based on what you input on their website. So basically, I can tell the person I have XYZ and lie on the website and get this letter, therefore I will go ahead with getting a "form" filled out by a doctor in the state of NJ. This person also told me he didn't want his parents knowing about his issue which is why he did this online (like I have stupid tattooed on my forehead). I don't know what form you both are talking about though. Would you mind elaborating? 

Your company can also have an ANIMAL POLICY (not pet policy)  that covers things like disposal of animal waste, annual veterinary health forms and proof of vaccinations, periodic inspection of property and immediate repair and charging for animal related damages, etc.