How to Respond When Property Owner Requests Pet Deposits for Emotional Support Animal

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are protected under the Federal Fair Housing Act.  Emotional Support Animals are not classified as pets because they provide support to an individual with a disability or psychological condition.  The most common Emotional Support Animals are dogs and cats, but many individuals prefer birds, rabbits and small reptiles.

Property owners cannot charge pet rent or pet deposits if the housing is classified as four units or more.   This type of housing is apartments that include four or more units, condos, townhomes, and mobile home parks.  The Fair Housing Act does allow property owners to request a letter from a license therapist or doctor.  The letter is valid for one year and must include the doctor’s name, address and license number.   The letter must include a diagnosis and state the patient needs to keep the pet with them in housing.

Many property managers request documentation that the ESA is registered.  Please contact Register My Service Animal at (480) 575-5655 if you are interested in registering your animals or any support products including ESA vest, ESA leash and patches.

If you have provided the requested documentation to the property owner and they are still requiring a pet deposit you should send a written letter to the property manager.  Reference the Federal Fair Housing Act and state that you have a disability that is supported by your ESA.  Attach a copy of the law to help the property manager understand what is allowed by law.  Always be polite because it may have been a misunderstanding or perhaps the person processing your rental application is not familiar with the laws.  Avoid threatening to call an attorney or filing a lawsuit during the initial communications because this will escalate the situation.

Another benefit of having and ESA is some companies and states allow employees to bring their Emotional Support Animal to work if specific conditions are met.  Contact your Human Resources department to find if this available to you.