Emotional Support Animals: What Landlords Need to Know

Emotional Support Animals: What Landlords Need to Know

This Friday, I’ll be doing a webinar on emotional support animals for MassLandlords. This webinar will cover what landlords need to know about emotional support animals, including how to address request from tenants for these animals and ways to avoid liability.

Emotional support animals (“ESAs”) are increasingly becoming common; one report states that registered emotional support animals have increased 1,000% between 2002 and 2012.

This webinar will discuss:

  • The difference between service animals and emotional support animals
  • Common circumstances when issues with ESAs may arise
  • What a landlord should be do when considering a tenant’s request for such an animal
  • What landlords can and can’t do with ESAs
  • Best practices for avoiding liability

The dog above is not a ESA; he’s my dog, Barley. However, the harness we use to walk him sometimes gets him confused as a support animal. This is a great example of why landlords need to be diligent about properly considering ESA requests from tenants.

In my practice as a landlord-tenant attorney, I’m increasingly seeing more cases involving ESAs. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently issued a guidance on this topic and noted the rise of discrimination claims on these matters:

As of the date of the issuance of this guidance, [Federal Housing Administration] complaints concerning denial of reasonable accommodations and disability access comprise almost 60% of all [Federal Housing Administration] complaints and those involving requests for reasonable accommodations for assistance animals are significantly increasing. In fact, such complaints are one of the most common types of fair housing complaints that [Housing and Urban Development] receives. In addition, most [Housing and Urban Development] charges of discrimination against a housing provider following a full investigation involve the denial of a reasonable accommodation to a person who has a physical or mental disability that the housing provider cannot readily observe.

For these reasons, this is an important topic for landlord-tenant law, and I hope you can join the webinar.

If you need help with a landlord-tenant matter, contact me for a consultation.