Service & Emotional Support Animals: Know the Difference | Marin Landlord Essentials

If your tenant has an emotional support dog or a service animal, you need to know how to handle that situation, and how it differs from having a pet. Today, we’re talking about ESAs – or Emotional Support Animals.

Definition of a Service Animal

What is a service animal? A service animal performs a service for disabled or blind people. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people with any life limiting disabilities are allowed to have a service animal. These animals must be able to respond to handlers, assist the individual with a disability, and refrain from causing public disturbances.

Definition of an ESA Dog or Animal

An emotional support animal is an animal that does not require any specialized training, like a service animal. You must provide accommodations for that animal when you have a tenant with an emotional support animal. Usually, these animals are dogs, but they can also be cats, birds, horses, pigs, snakes, and hamsters. Anyone who suffers from a psychological, emotional, or mental disorder can qualify to have an emotional support animal. A licensed mental health professional or therapist must provide an emotional support animal letter to certify that your tenant has the symptoms necessary to justify the animal for their disorder.

Emotional Support Animal Laws

Under the Fair Housing Act, people with emotional support animals are entitled to apply for and rent your home without discrimination. Also, that animal is not considered a pet. You cannot charge a tenant with a support or service animal any pet fees or pet rent.

It can be difficult to navigate the new laws on service animals and emotional support animals. If you have any questions about emotional support animal laws, or anything pertaining to Marin property management, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Bayside Management.

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