Emotional support animal in no pets unit

5 Replies

Basics are 10 year tenant, always no pets. Found out a cat was in unit, talked to tenants told them cat had to go. Only verbal notice. 2 weeks later they deliver a note from Soul Reconstruction specialist that they qualify for a emotional support animal and go on to quote HUD about all they can and will do for tenants. Need a way out of this. Tenant does not have a clean payment history and lease is up in 6 months. Options? Lawyer?

Hi Alan,

That's called a "Secret Pet" it happens a lot.

Cats are a lot more secret than dogs who need walking or stink up the backyard with (waste) and bark all day and night.

Some people just get a pet deposit when it's discovered.

Good Luck!

Without knowing the location of the unit it is hard to say what, if anything, you can do. Also, is the unit at market rent? Does the unit need repairs? Are they Section 8?

The ESA is like a wheelchair as far as the government is concerned. You can't do anything about the ESA or tenant because of this. Do not single out this tenant for any changes based on her having an ESA. 

However, you can raise the rent at renewal to market levels. Even if she is at market levels, nothing would prevent requesting a modest rent increase, say 5%, that put you above market levels. Everything goes up in price!

Also, if the security deposit was 1X rent, make sure to request an increase at lease renewal to keep it in line with the 1X rent level.

If the unit need significant updating, perhaps now is the time to do it. Non-renew and do all the repairs. Then re-rent at higher market levels. 

If the unit is Section 8, remove that unit from the program. Or make sure there is an issue that when the unit is re-inspected it won't qualify for approval. Whatever that issue is, it's just not worth your time and attention to fix and you'll have to remove it from the S8 program. 

If it is a legitimate support animal, it is an accommodation for an emotional disability and you can get in huge legal trouble by violating the requirement to accommodate.  You do, however, have every right to require proof of the need for the accommodation from a qualified source.  According to my state fair housing educator, this doesn’t have to be a medical professional.  You can’t ask about the disability.  You can ask for proof that an “accommodation is necessary for the tenant’s mental/emotional disability”.  I literally had a tenant argue with me that he was not disabled and could have an emotional support animal just because he called the animal that. Sorry, unless there is a disability there is no reason for an accommodation.