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What Killeen Landlords Need to Know About Emotional Support Animals

A Killeen Tenant Moving In to a Rental Home with her Emotional Support AnimalWhen one talks about assistance animals, the initial image that comes to mind is that of a dog in a red vest leading a blind person. However, there is a mounting trend of emotional support animals. As a Killeen landlord, do you have to rent to someone with an emotional support animal?

First, let’s look at the difference between service animals and emotional support animals. Service animals protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act are those that are exclusively trained to provide aid, do work, or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities. They are also able to know and act upon specific medical conditions. An emotional support animal (ESA) assists people who need either emotional or psychological support and is covered by the Federal Fair Housing Act. They are distinguished by their close, emotional, and supportive bond with their owner.

A resident has to secure a letter written by any medical professional— such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed clinical social worker— in order to enjoy the benefits of having an ESA. The letter must state that the animal is necessary, as well as what type of animal the person has as their ESA. Furthermore, a resident requesting to have more than one ESA should provide a separate letter for every animal.

The most common 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 restricted to these conditions. Any animal can become an ESA so long as the resident provides a letter of endorsement from a licensed mental health professional. Even current pets can become ESAs if the medical professional can verify that the patient’s current pet is giving vital mental support to their well-being.

Unlike standard service animals, Emotional Support Animals are not required by law to have any special training or experience to be allowed to help someone that needs support. However, they are considered a reasonable accommodation for an individual with a disability under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). As a landlord, you cannot refuse a verified ESA owner’s request for reasonable accommodation unless you meet guidelines established in your state as a resident landlord owner, like renting out the basement of your property while you reside on the main floor. Additionally, you cannot require an advance deposit or extra fees for ESAs with the exception that the ESA owner lets the animal become a nuisance or damage is done to the rental home, like with any tenant or guest in a rental situation.

In Conclusion

The above is a general summary of FHA guidelines for ESAs, although you will have to look at state guidelines as well because there might be additional state-specific guidelines on ESAs. Real Property Management Talent is knowledgeable about the Fair Housing Act requirements and how they affect you as a Killeen landlord. We can assist you in dealing with these requirements to make sure that you are in compliance when renting to people with Emotional Support Animals.

Interested in learning more? Please contact us online or call us at 254-401-0400 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.

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