What law gives people
with psychiatric disabilities the right to emotional support animals
(pets) in no-pets housing without deposits or fees?
U.S. Fair Housing Act (FHA).
What housing does it
Because it is a
federal law it covers housing in all 50 states and the rights given
by it cannot be limited by any state or municipal law or
It covers every
apartment, co-op, and condo complex and most multi-family housing.
Both owner-residents and tenants are covered. There are some
exceptions for some single-family homes and owner-occupied 4-, 3-,
and 2-family dwellings.2
It also covers covers rental offices, shelters, assisted living facilities, and housing at places of education (http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=servanimals_ntcfheo2013-01.pdf)
Who can have an
emotional support animal?
“In order to
qualify for a reasonable accommodation under the FHA, § 504, or the
ADA, the tenant must meet the statutory definition of having a
"disability." The statutes recognize three broad
categories of disabilities: (1) a physical or mental impairment
that substantially limits one or more major life activities (such as
walking, seeing, working, learning, washing, dressing, etc.); (2) a
record of having such an impairment; or (3) being regarded as having
such an impairment.)3
U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development, which enforces the FHA, specifically
allows emotional support animals “Assistance animals include guide
dogs for persons with visual disabilities, as well as other types of
assistance animals that provide services for people with other
disabilities, including emotional support for persons with mental
disabilities or whose disabilities result in chronic pain.”4
What's the process?
A simple note from a doctor or therapist is presented to the landlord or owners' association along with a note from the resident requesting the animal as a reasonable accommodation. “If one needs an emotional support animal to ease the symptoms of a disability (as defined above), he or she should request a reasonable accommodation, in writing, from the landlord, manager or other appropriate authority. The request should state that the tenant has a disability and explain how the requested accommodation will be helpful. In addition, the tenant should include a note from his or her service provider, such as a doctor or therapist, verifying the need for the support animal (see sample letter, below, [see link in footnote] as an example). Note that the tenant need not disclose the details of the disability, nor provide a detailed medical history.”5
the person with a disability have any responsibilities?
the emotional assistance animal is particularly disruptive, or the
tenant fails to take proper measures to ensure that the animal does
not bother other tenants, however, the landlord may be justified in
denying the accommodation or ultimately filing for an eviction. See,
e.g., Woodside Village v. Hertzmark, FH-FL Rptr. ¶ 18,129 (Conn.
Sup. Ct. 1993), in which the court found that a federally assisted
housing complex did not violate the Fair Housing Act by evicting a
resident with mental illness for failure to walk his dog in
designated areas and to use a pooper-scooper.”6
VI, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, “This
Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made
in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made,
under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law
of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby,
anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary
Housing Information Sheet #6, Judge David R. Bazelon Center for
Mental Health Law,
(includes sample letter)