The first image that customarily occurs to you when you think about assistance animals is that of a dog wearing a red vest, leading a blind person. Yet, there is an upward trend for emotional support animals. Do you as a Salt Lake City landlord have to rent to a tenant with an emotional support animal?
At the start, let’s scrutinize the disparities between service animals and emotional support animals. Service animals safeguarded by the Americans with Disabilities Act, are those that are specifically trained to render assistance, to do work, or render tasks for persons with disabilities, they also are able to know and act upon certain medical conditions. An emotional support animal (ESA) is one that assists somebody who needs either emotional or psychological support and is protected by the Federal Fair Housing Act. These animals are defined by the close, emotional and supportive bond between the animal and their owner.
With the objective to enjoy the rewards of having an ESA, a tenant must come by a letter penned by a medical professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed clinical social worker, although any medical professional can make the letter. The letter must specify that the animal is necessary, as well as what kind of animal the individual uses as their ESA. Additionally, a tenant requesting to have more than one ESA must have a separate letter for each individual animal.
The most familiar conditions that ESAs assist with are post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, fear or phobias, panic disorder or panic attacks, mood disorders, personality disorders, seasonal affective disorder, and social anxiety disorder. However, ESAs are not bound to these conditions. Any animal can be an ESA as long as the tenant has a letter of endorsement from a licensed mental health professional. Even current pets can become ESAs if the medical professional can attest that the patient’s current pet is providing vital mental support to the patient’s well-being.
Differing from standard service animals, Emotional Support Animals are not obliged by law to have any category of special training or experience to be admitted to help an individual that requires support. However, they are considered a reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). You as a landlord cannot reject a verified ESA owner’s request for reasonable accommodation unless you meet guidelines set in your state as a tenant-landlord owner such as renting out the basement of your home wherein you live on the main floor. Added to that, you cannot charge an initial deposit or amassed fees for ESAs except when the ESA owner condones the animal to be a pest or damage is done to the rental house, much as with any occupant or guest in a rental situation.
The above is a standard overview of FHA guidelines for ESAs, but you will need to scrutinize state guidelines as well as there may be additional state-specific guidelines on ESAs. Real Property Management Wasatch knows the Fair Housing Act requirements and how they bear upon you as a Salt Lake City landlord. We can assist you in getting these requirements to guarantee that you are in compliance when renting to individuals with Emotional Support Animals.
Interested in learning more? Please contact us online or call us at 801-418-9835 for more information.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.