Can a Condo Association Deny an Emotional Support Animal
Before you move to a new condominium with an ESA, one question is extremely important: After all, state laws regarding emotional support animals vary as to where ESAs are permitted; can state laws also affect landlord and homeowner association laws?
The good news is that under the Fair Housing Act, you cannot be denied housing simply because you have an ESA. The FHA covers landlord/tenant agreements as well as homeowner associations, including those governing condominiums and apartment buildings. But that doesn't mean you might not have to fight for your right to keep your emotional support animal and need an advocate like DoNotPay on your side.
How Does the Fair Housing Act Protect Me and My ESA?
It's a violation of the Fair Housing Act for any homeowner's association or landlord to do the following:
- Prohibit a resident from keeping an emotional support animal.
- Fine a resident was discovered to have an emotional support animal.
- Charge a resident extra fees or deposits for having an emotional support animal.
- Evict a tenant who has an emotional service animal.
- File suit against a homeowner association member for violating pet rules.
If you feel you have been , you can fight for your rights on your own, or with the help of DoNotPay.
How Can I Fight an Illegal Denial of My ESA?
Make sure you have a letter from a mental health professional that deems your pet as necessary to your mental wellness. This is called an ESA letter.
- Draft a letter to your condo association board informing them that they are in violation of the Fair Housing Act and that any attempts on their behalf to pursue action against you will result in you taking them to court and filing a complaint with Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
- Enclose a photocopy of your ESA letter.
- Send your response via certified mail to your condo association's official address.
- Call to follow up in a week after sending in your response, if you have not been contacted by the association.
Fair Housing Act violations are serious, and HUD will take action to investigate the matter while, in the meantime, mediating between you and your condo association. In any case, you can file suit in small claims or federal court if the condo association refuses to back down.
But before you escalate the situation you need to make sure that your pet is actually an ESA. This table outlines the differences between an emotional support animal vs a service animal:
|Definition.||A pet, whose presence is determined to be needed for the mental health of a patient.
The pet is prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to a person with a disabling mental illness.
|According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are dogs that are trained to perform tasks or do work for people with disabilities.|
|Does the assistance animal have access to public areas?||No||Yes|
|Can the assistance animal be banned or restricted when the owner is obtaining housing?||No||No|
|Will the owner of the assistance animal be charged a pet deposit for living with one?||No||No|
|Is the assistance animal allowed on flights free of charge?||No||Yes|
What if I Don’t Have an Official ESA Letter?
If you cannot legally prove that your pet is an emotional support animal, you may not be able to sue your condo association for damages should they pursue penalties. After all, if they don't know your pet has protected status, they're in the right if your pet would otherwise not be allowed in your building or neighborhood.
Here's how you should respond to your condominium association if they claim that you are breaking homeowner association covenants:
- Inform the association board by certified mail that you are in the process of seeking ESA status for your animal and that you expect to have your documents in order within 30 days.
- Immediately contact your mental health care provider or an ESA letter service to begin the process of getting your pet's ESA status.
- If and when you are granted an ESA letter, follow the steps in the previous section to inform the condo association board of your pet's legal status.
If you have an emotional support animal, it's likely that you already deal with anxiety and this process can be incredibly stressful. You can either hire an attorney to assist you or use an app like DoNotPay to deal with your condo association for you.
Let DoNotPay Help You Solve Your ESA Issues
Through our new Service and Emotional Support Animals product, DoNotPay can help you with all of your ESA-related concerns, including contacting your condominium association about your ESA, asking airlines about their accommodation options, and finding the most affordable Emotional Support Animal letter service.
- Search "service animal" on DoNotPay.
- Select the type of issue you need help with, including contacting your landlord about your ESA/service animal, asking your airline about ESA options, or requesting ESA/service accommodations at other venues.
- Answer a series of questions about your current situation and the details of your ESA/service animal, so we can generate the best results for you.
And that's it! We can also help you take your condo association to court with our Sue Now product, or let you stay informed with the following ESA-related topics:
- What you need to know about ESA dogs
- Flying with emotional support animals
- United Airlines and emotional support animals
- Southwest Airlines and emotional support animals
- American Airlines and emotional support animals
More DoNotPay Products for Your Pets
If getting your pet's ESA status validated is on your mind, you might be interested in other pet-related DoNot Pay apps, like these:
- Get help finding your lost pet
- Get your pet licensed online
- Have your hotel's pet fees waived (easy to do if you have an ESA letter!)
- Draft a pet agreement for your own tenants or housemates
But pet stuff isn't all we do! We can help you with anything from getting the best airfares to booking high-end restaurant reservations without having to use your credit card...and almost any other consumer issue you can think of. Let us take the stress out of standing up to your condominium association's no-pet policy now. It will only take minutes, leaving you plenty of time to knock out all the other challenges that have been simmering on the back burner!