I am in the process of attempting to rent a apartment. I have a legal emotional support animal and a letter from my doctor stating my need. Apartments are slim in my area and often don’t allow pets. When I disclose I have a ESA I am often denied or not responded to. Do I have to disclose this? What is the best way to go about finding residence?
ESA's are not legally considered pets and are considered a health aid like a wheelchair. You can likely report the landlords who denied you to your local HUD office for violating the Fair Housing Act, which applies to most properties with more than four units. They may be able to offer you guidance as to complexes that are willing to accept ESAs. As a practical matter, if you have a choice, it is always easier to find pet friendly housing and simply ask for exemption to pet deposits or fees.
Any answer provided on the AVVO website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice for your specific situation. You should always seek legal advice before taking any action which may affect your future rights. Your local legal aid office may well provide information or access to free legal advice and your state bar organization may provide referrals to reputable attorneys who will provide advice on a reduced cost basis.
You have a perfect right to have such an animal in your apartment. The landlord cannot refuse rental based on having such an animal. You can also contact the city or locality and I forget which department and file a complaint. There are also organizations that deal with people in this type of situations which you can check in your community.
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