Weekly ESA News Report Nov 29: Landlord Fined for Denying ESA

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emotional support dog carrying esa newspaper in its mouth

There are many landlords out there who are still confused about or ignorant of their legal obligations to provide reasonable accomodation to people living with a disability! As the follwing incedent shows, landlords would do well to become more savvy when it comes to the legal rights of emotional support animal (ESA)  owners!

Landlord Fined For Breach of Fair Housing Act

A court took action this week against a landlord who failed to comply with federal law protecting the rights of people with a disability. A New York landlord was slapped with a hefty $15,000 settlement fee after being faced with a court case for non-compliance with the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The law protects housing rights for those with disabilities.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed that the tenant from Syracuse, New York contacted them when her landlord would not allow her to keep an emotional support animal (ESA) in a rental property. The tenant was denied the right to have her ESA in the property despite having the correct documentation, showing that she was keeping the animal due to mental illness. 

Emotional support animals are used by thousands all over the United States to assist them with mental and physical health problems. These animals are often prescribed by a licensed mental heealth professional as part of a psychological treatment plan.

ESAs help to treat mental health problems in patients, such as anxiety, depression, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Laws such as the Fair Housing Act protect the housing rights of those that need to live with an animal due to a mental or physical disability.

esa kitten in carrier

Understanding the Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act is a 1968 law that prohibits denying people housing based on disability along with other factors such as race, religion, sex and familial status. The same law also requires that housing providers make reasonable accommodations for people who have medical conditions, mental health problems included.

In the case of the discrimination that took place in New York this year, the tenant was able to produce all the required documents to prove that her emotional support animal was endorsed by a mental health practitioner.

However, the property owners and agents responsible for the building refused to budge on their no pets policy. The resident contacted the HUD in 2016, and the case was reviewed this May. The court found that the landlords were in violation of the FHA and charged Nolo Contendere LLC and Nolo Contendere LLC Trust with the large fine.

The HUD say that they have received an increased amount of complaints against landlords in recent years. With many tenants being denied housing for having an emotional support animal to assist with a disability.

“People who rely on assistance animals to maintain their independence shouldn’t have their right to housing accommodations unlawfully denied,” said Anna María Farías, HUD‘s assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, in a prepared statement. “HUD will continue to ensure housing providers understand their rights and responsibilities under the law and take steps to meet those obligations.”

All landlords that are found to have denied tenants housing based on discriminatory grounds will be prosecuted by the HUD or forced to pay a fine to settle the case, according to the HUD.

CertaPet’s View on ESAs in Rented Accommodation

CertaPet agrees entirely with the HUD in that people should not lose their right to reasonable accommodation due to the fact they have a disability. It is definitely the “reasonable” accommodation that we support.

““We do not certify anything but cats and dogs and the occasional rabbit. We understand that other animals may have therapeutic value and we do not discredit that at all, but it is our policy to only recognize dogs cats and rabbits due to zoning restrictions, health concerns and regulations, and public safety.”

Reasonable is asking for your cat, dog, or the occasional bunny to be allowed to live with you in order to provide you with comfort and support. If you are interested in getting an emotional support animal to help you manage a mental or emotional condition, why not start by taking CertaPet’s free online 5-minute pre-screening?

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