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Pet deposits on emotional support animals?

I moved into an apartment 10 months ago with my two dogs and was required to pay an additional $1000 upon move in as a pet deposit. Since the time of move in, my psychiatrist issued me a written note on a prescription pad stating that I required my dogs as emotional support animals for a medical condition that I have. If I move into a new apartment, they won't charge me a deposit for my pets because they have been prescribed to me. I would like to ask for my pet deposit to be refunded to me for the apartment that I am living in currently. Is the management company required to refund my deposit since my dogs are now prescribed to me?


Thanks for the feedback. Just to clarify a couple things that came up in responses:

1.) The other place I was looking at would waive both the pet deposit and their "no dogs allowed" clause. This seems to be pretty standard.

2.) The pet deposit that was paid for my current residence is completely refundable barring any damage.

It is my understanding that as the tenant, I am still responsible for any damage done to the unit by my animals, whether or not they are prescribed to me. However, what I have read says that any charges are to be assessed upon move out and that no upfront deposits can be charged for companion animals. I guess this is why I am wondering whether I can get the deposit back now, not because I would try to shirk responsibility for any damage done (which, for the record, there hasn't been any).

16 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Companion animals are pets, not service animals. Unless those dogs are certified as assistance animals and you have the paperwork you need to prove it, as assistance animals are exempt from all laws, you can take them into restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

    You admit yourself the dogs are pets, you had them before you moved in, and you can not obtain an assistance animal without need, they cost thousands to train.

    You are not entitled to anything, as companion animals are legally pets.

    • Jan Sappy5 years agoReport

      This is 100% incorrect. Read the law!

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  • 4 years ago

    I work in a building where those rules apply. The deposit isn't waived even if the pet is a service animal. We are in the process of evicting 3 tenants because they were caught with unauthorized dogs and have no valid reason to keep them. It has also been found in some cases that the alleged "therapy" is the ruse of a spoiled brat who acts like a child when they don't get their way. The information is clearly stated in the rental agreement. The deposit has to do with cleaning carpet and other possible damage and not the pet itself. I am a 4 pet owner but I have no pity or sympathy for those who break rules.

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  • 5 years ago

    All of this talk about the ADA is misplaced. The relevant law is the Fair Housing Act since your question relates to your housing. You can ignore all of the ADA comments since they deal with public places and not housing. Your focus needs to be on the Fair Housing Act.

    Under the Fair Housing Act, all housing providers (including private apartment complexes) must allow for reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. Your situation qualifies as a disability under the Fair Housing Act. A reasonable accommodation in your case would be to allow you to have your emotional support animal even if the apartment complex had a "no pets" rule. And the housing provider cannot charge you a pet fee or deposit for that animal since it would be a reasonable accommodation for your disability under the law.

    If you run into any problems, I suggest that you contact a local fair housing agency. They can help resolve any issues you might run into.

    HOW DO IT KNOW: I've been a licensed attorney for over twenty years and teach courses on fair housing law to real estate agents and brokers.

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  • 7 years ago

    If you want ACCURATE information, go to Which is the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.

    They have a document called the Fair Housing Information Sheet # 6 Right to Emotional Support Animals in "No Pet" Housing, which gives ACCURATE information. It also includes a sample letter for your doctor to provide documentation that you need an assistance animal and 4 pages of references.

    Too much of what has been previously posted is just opinion and not

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  • 9 years ago

    You might want to check your state laws to see how much deposit a landlord may charge for pets. In many states it can't exceed 1/4 of the monthly rent.

    As you moved in with pets, you were charged a pet deposit. I believe that would stand.

    Contact an attorney to ask this question as you may have to sue, should you have grounds.

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  • 9 years ago

    Emotional Support Animals are not covered by the ADA law. While having a prescription for them might convince a no-pet complex to allow you to bring in an animal based on the doctor's letter, they are not -required- to do anything different than they would with another tenant who had a pet. The no up front charges only refers to ADA covered service animals which receive special training to do tasks for the handler. AN Emotional Support Animal is not specially trained for tasks to assist someone but are there for the comfort of the handler.

    HUD rules specifically state that Landlords may require the following from tenants with assistance animals or service animals:

    1) Tenant certifies in writing that tenant or family memeber is disabled

    2) The animal has been trained to assist that person with the specific disability

    3) The animal actually assist the person with the disability

    While you have provided written documentation, I do not know that your animals comply with parts 2 and 3. If they haven't been specifically trained to do a task for you to mitigate your disability, they do not qualify under HUD.

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  • ?
    Lv 4
    9 years ago

    Unless you are a single person, living in PUBLIC HOUSING (in other words, the local Housing Authority is your landlord) ESAs fall under any "Pet" rules your contract states. In PUBLIC HOUSING, ESAs, or "Prescribed pets" are permitted a waiver of pet deposits IF the person is living alone. The HA MAY limit the size and species of ESAs.

    Private landlords may choose, at their own discretion, whether or not an ESA requires a 'pet deposit'

    All this came about in the Fair Housing Act Amendment way back in the mid-1980s.

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  • 3 years ago

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    The law that protects you if you are disabled by mental illness with regard to housing is the Fair Housing Act. If your apartment complex falls under Fair Housing, then you request a reasonable accommodation to waive the pet deposit fee or to waive the "no dogs" clause.

    Now, the key word there is "reasonable". Your landlord may not think it's reasonable to permit two dogs in your apartment. For example, why can't one dog suffice?

    For your situation now, I suggest you submit a letter requesting a reasonable accommodation of waiver of the fee and request the money back. Do they legally have to give it to you? No. But it can't hurt to ask. Attach a letter of support written by your doctor. Landlords are legally allowed to request proof of disability and proof of need. This has been established in case law.

    Emotional Support Animals are not a type of service dog. Additionally, there is no certification for service animals in the US. The ADA doesn't apply to housing and it only protects the handler, not the dog.

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  • 4 years ago

    I'm doing basic obedience right now. My trainer hasn't once handled my dog. He has shown me how to handle my dog by using his own dog but that's about it. The reasoning is that I need to learn how to do these basic corrections and what not myself. Learn more

    I have never considered sending my dog away for training. I guess I haven't found that much of a problem with him to even think about it.

    Again, it may also have to do with the level of training you are looking for etc. No idea lol. I'm not a trainer. I think a first time dog owner needs to learn simple commands and how to handle their dog themselves as well.

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  • 3 years ago

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