Animals can enrich someone’s life. They provide a sense of companionship and responsibility while also providing endless hours of entertainment and opportunities for daily exercise. For those with disabling medical conditions, animals can also serve therapeutic purposes.
Service animals undergo rigorous training and regular certification so that they can go out in public with their handlers and provide medical support. Emotional support animals, on the other hand, may have very little training and come with just a certificate stating they help their owner.
Does a landlord have to accommodate a request for an emotional support animal?
A case-by-case analysis is likely required for emotional support animal requests
There is a compelling body of evidence showing that animals can help people overcome emotional issues. There is also a growing amount of evidence that plenty of people are happy to abuse service animal regulations and emotional support animal regulations for personal benefit. Some people make false claims to take animals where they otherwise shouldn’t or to avoid reasonable fees meant to offset damage to a rental unit by pets.
Landlords may need to carefully evaluate the paperwork provided by a tenant or prospective renter claiming they need accommodations for an emotional support animal. Is there, for example, legitimate paperwork or documentation certifying the animal — or does its paperwork come from a mill that just provides a certificate for a flat fee with no evidence of the animal’s training or temperament.
However, landlords need to be careful in their approach because an unfair denial of accommodations could lead to serious legal claims. Learning about common issues that lead to landlord-tenant disputes can help either party advocate for their rights in a rental situation.