Question by Gypsy Dancer: Who qualifies to have an Emotional Support Animal?
My aunt has been diagnosed with anxiety and major depressive disorder… she lives alone and could really benefit from the companionship that a pet would bring. However, she lives in a place where pets are not allowed. How would she go about getting approval to have an ESA, and could the landlord reject it even if she had a letter from her physician.
Answer by mariahleadme
An ESA is prescribed by the persons primary care physician. The person must meet the legal definition of “disabled”. There is no special training involved, as an ESA is not a service animal and cannot be taken in the public venue. The request must meet the definition of “reasonable accommodations”. Example: having a Great Dane as an ESA in a 500 sq/ft apartment would not be termed “reasonable”, and could legally be denied. However, having a well behaved Jack Russel Terrier as an ESA in a 500 sq/ft apartment would meet the “reasonable” criteria.
The FHAA (Fair Housing Act Amendments) does allow for an ESA in “no-pets” housing, under certain conditions. The handler of the ESA is responsible for any and all damage done by the animal to the premises, and if the animal is not cared for properly (becomes a nuisance, barks constantly, eliminates in inappropriate places, is not kept well groomed, is menacing to other residents, etc.) the landlord has the legal right to have the animal removed.
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