Emotional support animals

10 Replies

A friend of mine living in Utah is trying to get an emotional support animal, but her landlord is having issues. Besides being provided with letters from her doctor and psychologist for the need for the animal, he is demanding to speak with the doctors. (Which is totally illegal, right?)

My friend also claims that an ESA doesn’t need to be certified, just needs to have a letter from her doctor. I’ve looked, but can’t find any evidence supporting that.

Can anyone here point me to a source that says if she does or doesn’t need the animal certified?

Robert,

As long as she has letters from her physician, then he should allow the pet. It is not up to him to speak with the doctor, although he can give the doctors his own form to fill out With rages to the nees for the emotional support animal.

Originally posted by @Robert Freeborn :

A friend of mine living in Utah is trying to get an emotional support animal, but her landlord is having issues. Besides being provided with letters from her doctor and psychologist for the need for the animal, he is demanding to speak with the doctors. (Which is totally illegal, right?)

My friend also claims that an ESA doesn’t need to be certified, just needs to have a letter from her doctor. I’ve looked, but can’t find any evidence supporting that.

Can anyone here point me to a source that says if she does or doesn’t need the animal certified?

 This came directly from the ADA website.

***********Emotional support animals, comfort animals, and therapy dogs are not service animals under Title II and Title III of the ADA. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals either.*************

Therefore, the Landlord can refuse the animal and/or treat it as a pet, not a service animal as it is not protected under the ADA.

Here is the complete link https://adata.org/publication/service-animals-booklet

Hope this helps!

Offer to pay the pet deposit and treat it as a normal pet.  Legislation is unclear at this point on ESA, there has not been a lot of court action to clarify the laws.  The landlord should not need to talk to the doctors, but the doctor letters are very easy to come by, so something the middle is likely appropriate.  We require a specific form which outlines the disability the animal is helping.  From a landlords perspective the ESA is taking on more risk of unit damage with no rewards of extra pet fees so the best way for applicants and tenants to move forward is to help mitigate those risks.  Too many people are abusing the system to try to get pets at no additional cost.

Emotional support animals are for the most part a scam.

If the property is No Pets the landlord should refuse to allow it in and offer to allow the tenant out of their lease.

Owners are stuck with ESA. However, the tenant should be served notice that their pet may not disturb the existing tenants safe and quiet enjoyment of the property.

@Robert Freeborn This is an issue of reasonable accommodation. It is therefore reasonable to require notice from a local doctor (or qualified professional), local vet records (to protect neighbors, children, etc), and local animal license. These should be updated annually.  

I also have an animal addendum that requires them to care for the animal, pick up after it, care for damages immediately, submit to a dna test upon request, etc... 

it all works to help eliminate the scammers, but accommodate those with a legitimate need.

@Robert Freeborn when it comes to advice, you get what you pay for. In other words, don't take what you read on this forum as fact because many people have no idea what the law is, particularly in your state.

@Cara Lonsdale the Americans with Disabilities Act covers public spaces, not housing. What you posted has nothing to do with an Emotional Support Animal in a rental property, which is covered by Fair Housing.

Housing providers are entitled to verify the existence of a disability if it is not readily apparent. In other words, if a blind man walks in with a seeing-eye dog, the disability is apparent and the housing provider cannot ask if they have a disability. However, emotional support animals are typically for alleged disabilities that are not apparent, such as anxiety or stress. Therefore, the housing provider can verify the need by requiring a letter. Even though a letter was provided, the housing provider has the right to call the doctor and verify they actually prescribed the animal for the patient.

The truth is, emotional support animals are one of the greatest frauds taking place right now and the housing provider is right to verify your friend's claim.

Originally posted by @Nathan G. :

@Robert Freeborn when it comes to advice, you get what you pay for. In other words, don't take what you read on this forum as fact because many people have no idea what the law is, particularly in your state.

@Cara Lonsdale the Americans with Disabilities Act covers public spaces, not housing. What you posted has nothing to do with an Emotional Support Animal in a rental property, which is covered by Fair Housing.

Housing providers are entitled to verify the existence of a disability if it is not readily apparent. In other words, if a blind man walks in with a seeing-eye dog, the disability is apparent and the housing provider cannot ask if they have a disability. However, emotional support animals are typically for alleged disabilities that are not apparent, such as anxiety or stress. Therefore, the housing provider can verify the need by requiring a letter. Even though a letter was provided, the housing provider has the right to call the doctor and verify they actually prescribed the animal for the patient.

The truth is, emotional support animals are one of the greatest frauds taking place right now and the housing provider is right to verify your friend's claim.

 Actually, if you actually WENT to the link I provided, you would've seen that it DID refer to housing as referenced below (again STRAIGHT from the site)

***********

c) Housing

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects a person with a disability from discrimination in obtaining housing. Under this law, a landlord or homeowner's association must provide reasonable accommodation to people with disabilities so that they have an equal opportunity to enjoy and use a dwelling.8 Emotional support animals that do not qualify as service animals under the ADA may nevertheless qualify as reasonable accommodations under the FHA.9 In cases when a person with a disability uses a service animal or an emotional support animal, a reasonable accommodation may include waiving a no-pet rule or a pet deposit.10 This animal is not considered a pet.

A landlord or homeowner’s association may not ask a housing applicant about the existence, nature, and extent of his or her disability. However, an individual with a disability who requests a reasonable accommodation may be asked to provide documentation so that the landlord or homeowner’s association can properly review the accommodation request.11 They can ask a person to certify, in writing, (1) that the tenant or a member of his or her family is a person with a disability; (2) the need for the animal to assist the person with that specific disability; and (3) that the animal actually assists the person with a disability. It is important to keep in mind that the ADA may apply in the housing context as well, for example with student housing. Where the ADA applies, requiring documentation or certification would not be permitted with regard to an animal that qualifies as a “service animal.”

***************

This gives some validity, to what everyone has said.  It is apparent from all of the posts that the law about this isn't exactly crystal clear and leaves room for interpretation.  However, we can all agree that there is much fraud going on within this category.  Landlords are tired of being taken advantage of just so that someone can avoid a pet deposit, or have their pitbull allowed to live in the property.  

Although it pains me, I found another link that references the law and providing "reasonable accommodation".    https://www.nsarco.com/emotional-housing.html

One thing that stuck out at me, that may be why your friend is getting some push back is that the doctor letter has to be from a mental care provider, not just any doctor.

Hope that helps.

I propose a new test!

If you can say you need an "Emotional Support Animal" with a straight face, you win. You can keep your pet... err non-pet.

What a crock.

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