Housing Protection for ESAs

The federal laws that grant the right for people with psychiatric disabilities to have ESAs in rental housing are Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA). These federal statutes combined with the corresponding case law establish the general rule that landlords cannot discriminate against people with disabilities in housing. Also if a reasonable accommodation will allow a person with a disability to equally enjoy and make use of the rental property, the landlord must supply the accommodation. Disabled individuals may ask for a reasonable accommodation, like foregoing a no-pets policy for any assistance animal, and this includes ESAs under both Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the FHAA.

California law provides similar housing protection as the federal statutes in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). FEHA is enforced by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).

In order to have your dog or cat designated as your emotional support animal for the purposes of housing, you need to get a letter from your psychotherapist or physician recommending the emotional support animal to help with your psychiatric disability, and the animal has to be able to get along with people without being a danger or nuisance.

Landlords are required to allow disabled tenants to have an emotional support animal even when there’s a “no pet” policy if they have the proper documentation. Landlords must waive security deposits for pets, but the tenant can be charged for any damage caused by the emotional support animal.

Public University Housing Protection for ESAs

In April 2014, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) notified its regional offices that public universities must comply with the Fair Housing Act (including its 1988 amendments) and allow psychiatric disabled students to have ESAs in their college residence halls and dormitories.

For those off-campus students, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA) already offer protections that allow psychiatrically disabled tenants to have an emotional support animal even when there’s a “no pet” policy provided they have the proper documentation.

Going away to college for the first time is hard for most students, but is made even harder for those prone to depression or other mental illness. Emotional support animals provide emotional security, unconditional love, and act as a secure base for their owners, thus providing symptom relief for both anxiety and depression.

In order to have your dog or cat designated as your emotional support animal for the purposes of housing, you need to get a letter from your psychotherapist or physician recommending the emotional support animal to help with your psychiatric disability, and the animal has to be able to get along with people without being a danger or nuisance.

Special Provisions for ESAs in San Francisco →

Caring for Your ESA →

Other Types of Service and Therapy Animals →

 

Contact Me Now →

Michael Halyard, LPCC, LMFT

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor & Marriage and Family Therapist

Psychotherapy & Referrals

Emotional Support Animal Letters

533-A Castro Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

Contact Me Now →

(415) 642-4662
mike@sftherapy.com