Anonymous asked in Business & FinanceRenting & Real Estate · 3 weeks ago

ESA animal - home renting?

I’m moving out of state for college and I need to bring my emotional support dog with me. I have multiple mental illnesses and he was prescribed to me by a doctor. I’m looking for an apartment that allows large dogs but it’s in California so the apartments are extremely expensive and if I can’t find one in my price range, I will have to rent a place that doesn’t allow dogs and use my doctor’s ESA certificate. On all the websites I’ve read from, the law says that the landlords have to let you keep your dog. Has anyone had experience with this? Are there ways that they can deny you still? 

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13 Answers

  • 3 weeks ago
    Favorite Answer

    under US federal law (FHA) there CANNOT be a size restriction on any ASSISTANCE ANIMAL including ESAs.

    there can not be a firm ban on breeds either....the landlord is required by law to try to accommodate any breed such as a pit bull and would have to show undue hardship (cannot get an insurance waiver or similar insurance from another provider at the same price).

    note that MINIMAL landlords are exempt from the law...the law does apply to MOST landlords...I have never been able to find a statistic, but the only landlords that are exempt are

    owner occupied 4 family or less house

    a landlord that owns 3 or fewer single family homes


    they don't use a broker/

    But you really are better off to find a landlord that allows PETS (an assistance animal is not legally a pet) just to avoid the battle.

    unless you can afford a lawyer, the law in not enforced....government agencies are a waste of tax payer dollars...

    for example, USDOJ just sends a form letter 18 months later saying they don't have the resources to investigate.

    NOTE: ESAs DO NOT NEED TO BE TASK TRAINED...they should be behavior trained as if they are a nuisance they can be kicked out.


    even an owner occupied multi family is not exempt if a broker is used

    AND NO A LARGE DOG CANNOT BE EXCLUDED FROM A SMALL APARTMENT....that would be like saying no fully grown human can live there...if a 150 pound human fits, so does a 150 pound dog

  • R P
    Lv 7
    3 weeks ago

    There have been many discussions about ESA's and service animals on the other landlord forums that I frequent.  Also, the answers already given in this thread show that the ESA laws are  often misunderstood.

    Someone else has already told you that the landlord will most likely find a valid (non-discriminatory) reason to deny you since he cannot deny you for the ESA.  That is what will most likely happen, and it won't be hard since you won't be gainfully employed when you move.

    If you do as someone suggested (move in then inform the landlord that you have an ESA), you can expect that your lease will not be renewed. You'll be facing the same problem at that time.  So, don't lie about your pet.

    Source(s): Florida landlord
  • Anonymous
    3 weeks ago

    Here's your bottom line.  Any landlord, whether it's a complex or a private home, has the right to decide whether they'll allow pets and, if so, have restrictions on size.   I've noticed on craigslist people with ESAs sometimes assume that it's illegal for someone to not allow their pet, and this just isn't true. 

    I don't know where you found that info you posted, but maybe you should stay in your home state or pick a cheaper place than CA. 

  • 3 weeks ago

    Well yes, they can find some other reason to deny you, they just can't deny you for the dog.

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  • Bort
    Lv 6
    3 weeks ago

    It's common that ADA (Accessability Dependency Administration, also used for American's with Disabilities Act but that's not what I mean by 'ADA' in this case) laws that bypass what you're talking about are confused. Service Animals are required by federal law to be allowed everywhere including in rental properties where the owner or landlord doesn't allow pets. 'ESA' (Emotional Support Animals) are not Service Animals, they're emotinal support animals.

    I deeply apologize but doctor's note / certificate or not by law(s) an ESA can be legally prohibited to enter and be in a dwelling or business. It's not a service animal. There's a difference.

  • 3 weeks ago

    The websites are wrong. An ESA animal is a PET. We ALL have ESA animals. If they were not emotional supportive, nobody would own pets. You have confused an ESA animal with a "service" animal. That is what landlords, restaurants, etc. cannot reject. So unless your animal is a "service" animal, then you are just going to have to find a "pet friendly" apartment.

    Source(s): Certified Paralegal, with 25+ years' experience & with Landlord & Tenant law experience.
    • bela3 weeks agoReport

      I know the difference between an ESA and a service animal, I’m not “confused.” If I had a service animal obviously it would be illegal to deny me because of it. That’s why I’m asking about ESA

  • Anonymous
    3 weeks ago

    Sadly, the ambiguity and the ESA law and the common understanding of it isn't your problem.  What is, it the lack of the enforcement.  Being denied as a tenant because of your ESA will occur because prosecuting the landlord typically won't be pursued.  Not fair, but still a reality.  You would be better off moving in first before informing the landlord of your ESA after the fact because evicting you on the basis of the ESA is where the landlord will require a judge's approval, and won't obtain it because of the ESA law.

  • 3 weeks ago

    Yes. Owners of 1-4 units who live in the building are exempt from the Fair Housing Act, which covers ESA. Owners of up to three single family houses who do not use a real estate professional to find tenants are also exempt from the FHA.

    If you find an apartment complex, they can only deny you if the animal is too large for the accommodations - and in a small apartment, a large dog can be excluded. Also, once you use your ESA letter, you can lose the right to live there with it if the animal causes damage or harms other people. Note that this animal is not a trained service animal but one for your emotional support, and so you will have to choose between a place that will accept large breeds, or getting a smaller breed that is appropriate to apartment living.

  • Judy
    Lv 7
    3 weeks ago

    They don't HAVE to rent to you. Can deny you for some other reason.

  • 3 weeks ago

    If you are DISABLED then the landlord is required to allow you to have your ESA as long as the landlord is governed under HUD regulations.

    Having a mental illness or multiple mental illnesses does not make you disabled.  How you are able to complete basic life functions determines whether you are disabled or not. A doctor prescribing you an ESA is not the same thing as a doctor specifying that you are disabled.

    If you would like clarification/confirmation on this, read the HUD regulations. 

    There is a ton of bogus information on ESAs floating around on the internet. 

    • A Hunch
      Lv 7
      3 weeks agoReport

      If you aren't disabled, then you ESA is considered a pet and you need to find pet friendly housing. 

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