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Is it legal for a landlord to deny my request for a companion pet if I have a doctor's letter? Can they charge a deposit?

North Branch, MN |

I was diagnosed with depression a year or so ago. In June, I moved into an apartment with a no-pet policy. I've always had cats, so it was a hard adjustment for me and I've felt like it's had an affect on my depression. I talked to my doctor and she said she can write me a letter to the landlords that states she recommends I have a "companion pet." I've learned a little about the ADA lately in college, so I'm thinking this might fit into there, but can they deny my request to be allowed to have a cat here if my doctor is recommending it? If they do allow it, can they try to charge me a deposit? I paid a basic security deposit when I moved in of $250, so I can't imagine it would be any higher than that if they do charge one. I just want to have all my facts straight before talking to them.

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

FIrst of all, I can't give you any MN-specific information, as I'm in MA.

However, I went ahead to post an answer because there is federal-law protection available to you that I am conversant in.

The term you need to use is "emotional support animal." The ADA does not protect you here, but the federal Fair Housing Act does. Under the Fair Housing Act, if you have a prescription for an emotional support animal, the landlord may not keep you from having the cat or charge you any extra fee or deposit for it. They can require a letter from your doctor, and they can charge you for any actual damage caused by the animal.

You can read a memo on this from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development at http://servicedogcentral.org/content/files/HUD%20FHEO%202-17-2011%20Assistance%20Animal%20Memo.pdf

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3 comments

Golnar Sargeant

Golnar Sargeant

Posted

Great info Mr. Cowan.

Andrew W. Cowan

Andrew W. Cowan

Posted

Thanks!

Jeremy Judson Cobb

Jeremy Judson Cobb

Posted

My thoughts exactly! Good work on the "reasonable accommodation" angle!

Posted

Emotional support animals and companion animals are not given the same level of protection as service animals. I suggest you re-tag/re-post your question with disability law related headings to get a further answer from an ADA attorney.

We do not have an attorney-client relationship. I am not your lawyer. The statements I have made do not constitute legal advice. Any statements I have made are based upon the very limited facts you have presented, and under the premise that you will consult with a local attorney. This is not an attempt to solicit business. This disclaimer is in addition to any disclaimers that this website has made. I am only licensed in California.

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Posted

Hello. Two laws involved in this issue are the Minnesota Fair Housing Act and American with Disabilities Act. Please confer with an attorney because the issues you describe are not clearcut in statute and case law and need some analysis.

HOUSING LAW ATTORNEY

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Posted

I agree with Mr. Cowan's response. The Fair Housing Act provides that emotional support animals are a reasonable accomodation. Of course, that does not mean you can have any kind of animal and that the landlord cannot ask for an additional deposit. You should consult with a Minnesota attorney. There may be a local fair housing center in your community that could provide some assistance.

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