The federal laws that grant housing rights to people with psychiatric disabilities to have ESAs are Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA). These federal statutes along with corresponding case law require that landlords do not discriminate against people with disabilities. The FHAA requires property owners to make reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities, including those who are accompanied by emotional support animals (ESAs).
Landlords or property owners with with restrictions on breed, size, or species of animal must make reasonable accommodations to allow individuals with an ESA letter to reside on their property with their ESA. For example, a landlord who normally only permits dogs cannot deny an ESA owner housing because their ESA is a cat.
Landlords must waive security deposits for an ESA, but the tenant can be charged for damage caused by the ESA.
Landlords cannot require ESAs to wear identifying tags or garments or require owners to post identifying materials on their home.
Landlords do not have the right to know the nature one’s disability/diagnosis.
Landlords must waive fees normally required for individuals living with a pet. This means that landlords are not owed a deposit for accommodating an ESA.
Disabled individuals may ask for a reasonable accommodation, like foregoing a no-pet policy for their ESA. Even when buildings have a “no pet” policy, if the tenant has an ESA letter, the landlord is required to allow that tenant to have an ESA. Landlords must waive security deposits for an ESA, but the tenant can be charged for damage caused by the ESA.
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).
To learn if you are a good fit for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), schedule a consultation.