What Does the Fair Housing Act for Emotional Support Animal Covers?
The Federal Housing Act prevents discrimination against tenants with emotional support animals. Under this law, a disability is defined as an impairment that limits major life activities.
Many tenants with mental illness or emotional distress issues have ESAs that provide relief from the symptoms of their disability.
These animals can range in size, cost, and species. But they all work to improve a person's quality of life by providing comfort for them when needed the most.
Many people are not aware that the Fair Housing Act has a section on service animals also. It means that if you have a service animal or an ESA then your landlord is legally required to provide reasonable accommodations for them.
A qualified animal companion can be an ESA if they have an ESA recommendation letter from a mental health professional.
- Fair Housing Act for Emotional Support Animals: What Is It?
- Fair Housing Act: What it Protects?
- What Is a Reasonable Accommodation?
- Housing Covered By the Fair Housing Act
- The Fair Housing Act and the Landlord
- Requirements for Landlords to Accept Your ESA
- Fair Housing Act and Emotional Support Animal
Fair Housing Act for Emotional Support Animals: What Is It?
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is a federal law that protects people from discrimination in housing. The FHA was successful at helping many find appropriate living arrangements - even if they have disabilities or children, and can't always afford their ideal apartment.
The FHA is a federal law that was created to provide an opportunity for people of all races and backgrounds to rent homes in the United States. The FHA prohibits housing providers from discriminating against potential renters on the basis of color, race, religion, sex, or familial status by refusing to sell or rent their property.
This includes selling houses at different prices based upon these factors also.
The Fair Housing Act is a crucial piece of legislation that has been enacted to ensure people are not denied housing opportunities due to the mentioned factors. Moreover, people having service and emotional support animals do not need to pay any additional deposit or fee to live with the animal.
The Fair Housing Act protects those looking to purchase or rent from any housing provider, including the following:
- Building lot owners
- Leasing agents
- Real estate agents
- Rental managers
- Contractors and developers
- Individuals selling their home
In simpler words, the FHA is an important piece of legislation that prohibits discrimination for those looking to rent or purchase a home
Fair Housing Act: What does it Protect?
There are many forms of discrimination in housing and you must know your rights when looking for the next place. The following classes are protected under the Fair Housing Act:
- Family status
The FHA was a necessary step that helped to ensure equality among all people. This is done by giving each and every prospective tenant the chance of getting housing of their choice and without any restrictions.
When it comes to emotional support animals and service animals, the lines between discrimination against disabled people and providing fair opportunities are not so clear.
However, it is important to note that both emotional support animals and service animals are protected under this law. If the tenant has an ESA or service animal when going for housing, they could face difficulties in finding a home as many landlords do not allow pets of any kind on their premises. However, with protection from the FHA, even these restrictions can be bypassed by law if the need arises.
Assistance animals are put in a different legal classification and for this reason, pet restrictions and fees are waived off for them. Their purpose is to perform tasks for the benefit of a person with disabilities. They do it by providing comfort through emotional support as well as by performing tasks that would be otherwise difficult without their help.
What Is a Reasonable Accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is defined as a change, exception, or adjustment to the way things are done that may be needed by someone with disabilities. So, they can have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their living spaces.
How to Qualify for a Reasonable Accommodation?
Tenants who meet the requirements of a disability (physical or mental impairment) and the need for accommodation to enjoy their living quarters will be granted reasonable accommodations.
What if Your Landlord Refuses to Accommodate?
Landlords should be honest about reasonable accommodation requests, and if they are not able to accommodate the request for a disabled person then the person asks for an investigation against the landlord.
The following are the ways to file a complaint if your landlord refuses to accommodate:
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a federal organization that addresses issues about housing. You can file a complaint electronically with HUD in just a few minutes.
- You can choose to print and fill a HUD Discrimination Form, but it should be mailed to the HUD office.
- You can also file a complaint with your state’s agency.
Housing Covered By the Fair Housing Act
Fair Housing Act covers all types of housing except the following:
- The rental facilities of a maximum of four units, where one unit is held by the owner. The FHA does not consider hotels and motels as dwellings, but they are considered places of public accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Single-family homes rented or sold by the owner without the involvement of an agent
- Housing that is owned by religious organizations or private clubs
Can a Landlord Deny More Than One Emotional Support Animal?
People are starting to ask for multiple emotional support animals, but you can't just say "no" bluntly. You need to follow the same protocol as if it was one pet. Additionally, residents will have to explain what type of individual service each animal provides in order to get approval.
There are many different scenarios you may encounter when it comes to ESAs. With a reliable process in place that includes verification from licensed mental health professionals, Fair Housing Compliance is ensured.
The Fair Housing Act and the Landlord
If you suffer from mental health complications and would like or already have a pet, consult with mental health professionals. Mental illness is tough to deal with on its own without the emotional support that animals provide for many people all around the world.
The Fair Housing Act protects potential tenants who have an animal as their ESA by providing them legal protection against discrimination.
Is your landlord not accepting your animal? Don't let him discourage you. The best way to make your landlord happy and maintain a smooth living situation is through honest and transparent communication. If you have documentation proving that the animal in question is more than just a pet then, in most cases, a valid ESA letter would be enough.
The FHA prevents you from being discriminated against when looking for housing. This includes those with disabilities that may require ESAs, such as people who suffer from stress, anxiety, or depression.
The best way to know what the FHA says about your rights is knowing exactly how far these protections go - whether they apply only at home or also extend to public spaces like schools and stores.
Requirements for Landlords to Accept Your ESA
As someone with an ESA, it's important to know your rights and the protections you're afforded under the FHA when looking for housing. Make sure that before meeting or communicating at all with a potential landlord about this issue, that they are aware of what is protected by FHA law so as not to have any misunderstandings in advance.
Emotional support animals or service dogs are not just pets that can be seen as a ‘pet policy’ issue. They're actually an important form of treatment for those suffering from mental health complications, which is why they should be accepted in no-pet facilities also.
When a landlord violates the Fair Housing Act and discriminates against potential tenants, having an ESA, it is often due to a lack of knowledge about the law.
If your landlord denies you or the pet with an ESA letter access to housing due to their condition, legal action can be taken.
Fair Housing Act and Emotional Support Animal
You have rights as a tenant and an ESA owner under the FHA.
Your landlord cannot refuse you or your ESA, so make sure to always double-check with them before moving in.
If you are looking for an ESA and don't know where to start, getting the help of a healthcare professional is key. Or you can also contact us at MyESALetter.net and get a legit ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional.
Do you feel like the world is too much to handle? Are your symptoms getting worse and interfering with what you want or need in life? You might be eligible for an emotional support animal but not without a therapist's approval.
Check out this questionnaire and start your way towards a better mental health.
Frequently asked questions
How many ESA can one person have?
There are no rules about how many ESA's you can have. But as long as the animal does not violate any laws and is there for your well-being, it's up to you.
Can a landlord legally say no to ESAs?
No, a landlord could not refuse an ESA unless he has some solid, valid, and reasonable excuse for it. Reasonable excuses would include things like smaller homes or flats where owning a pet might be impractical.
Can a landlord deny an ESA based on breed/size?
The landlord can refuse accommodation for an ESA, based on breed if they feel it could pose a direct threat.
Do apartments Verify ESA letters?
Landlords can verify ESA letters in a way that does not violate HIPPA or the Fair Housing Act. The letters should be on the therapist’s official letterhead, with his complete contact information such as phone number and email along with the therapist's license number.
Does FHA apply to campus residence also?
The Fair Housing Act ensures that students can live with their emotional support animals in campus residence. It is important to note that these are only allowed for those suffering from mental or emotional disabilities.
Can the landlord charge a pet fee?
The housing provider should not charge any pet fees or require pet deposits. But if the animal causes damage to the property then they may need to cover the costs of repairs.
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