Can Landlord Charge Pet Rent For Emotional Support Animal

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Can a Landlord Charge Pet Rent for an Emotional Support Animal?

As a lifelong animal lover, I’ve always felt a deep connection to my furry companions. When I stumbled upon the concept of emotional support animals (ESAs), I was thrilled at the prospect of sharing my home with a beloved pet while reaping therapeutic benefits. However, a recent conversation with a fellow pet owner left me perplexed: can landlords legally charge pet rent for ESAs?

To unravel this complex issue, let’s delve into the legal framework surrounding ESAs.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An ESA is a companion animal that provides emotional support or therapeutic benefits to individuals with disabilities. Unlike service animals, ESAs are not trained to perform specific tasks but offer comfort and companionship, which can significantly improve the well-being of their handlers.

The Fair Housing Act and ESAs

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in housing. This includes the right to have an ESA, regardless of a landlord’s no-pet policy. Landlords cannot charge pet rent or impose additional fees for ESAs, as they are considered an extension of their handler’s disability-related needs.

Recent Developments and Case Law

Recent case law has further clarified the rights of ESA owners. In 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that landlords cannot inquire about the nature of an individual’s disability or require medical documentation beyond a statement from a licensed healthcare professional. This decision reinforces the principle that ESAs are legitimate accommodations protected by the FHA.

Tips and Expert Advice for ESA Owners

To ensure your rights as an ESA owner, it’s crucial to:

  • Obtain a letter from a licensed healthcare professional: This letter should state that you have a disability and that your ESA provides therapeutic benefits.
  • Provide the letter to your landlord: It’s important to provide your landlord with this letter as soon as possible, preferably before bringing your ESA into the property.
  • Be prepared to answer questions: Landlords may ask you some limited questions about your ESA, such as its species and size. However, they cannot deny you housing based on these factors.

Landlord Responsibilities

Landlords have a responsibility to:

  • Allow ESAs in their properties: This includes both apartments and houses, regardless of any no-pet policies.
  • Refrain from charging pet rent or fees: ESAs are considered reasonable accommodations, and landlords cannot charge additional fees for them.
  • Reasonable accommodation: Landlords may make reasonable accommodations for ESAs, such as allowing them in common areas or providing a designated pet space.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can a landlord charge a security deposit for an ESA?

A: Yes, landlords can charge a security deposit for ESAs, but it must be the same amount as the deposit required for other tenants without ESAs.

Q: Can a landlord deny an ESA if it causes damage to the property?

A: Yes, landlords can deny an ESA if it causes substantial damage to the property. However, they must provide the tenant with a reasonable opportunity to repair or compensate for the damage.

Q: What happens if a landlord violates the Fair Housing Act?

A: Individuals who believe they have been discriminated against may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD can investigate the complaint and take appropriate action, including imposing fines or requiring the landlord to make changes.


Understanding the legal rights surrounding ESAs is crucial for both landlords and tenants. By adhering to the principles outlined in the Fair Housing Act, landlords can create inclusive and accessible housing environments that support the well-being of their disabled tenants. ESA owners, in turn, can confidently advocate for their rights and enjoy the companionship of their furry companions in a safe and welcoming home.

Are you interested in learning more about the topic of fair housing and emotional support animals? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.

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