Can a Landlord Charge a Pet Deposit for a Service Animal?

Landlord Protection Can a Landlord Charge a Pet Deposit for a Service Animal?

Can a Landlord Charge a Pet Deposit For a Service Animal?

In most cases, if you're presently on a lease, it's always a good idea to check the lease about the specific permissions for getting pets. Many times, landlords will just charge an extra security deposit for pets. But,

Regardless of the state you live in, federal law protects you as an emotional support animal (ESA) owner. Certain states, such as California and New York, have additional laws that prohibit ESA owner discrimination in housing.

But there are some landlords who will definitely try to charge you. And, it can be a challenging process fighting them on that — and possibly a costly one. This is where you need a service like DoNotPay to help you out. DoNotPay helps with all kinds of rental and roommate issues.

Security Deposit Laws

Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), even if your lease restricts pets or says "no pets", landlords must make what's known as "reasonable accommodation" to allow emotional support animals and pets that serve as assistance animals. And, under FHA rules, landlords can't charge a fee to process an ESA accommodation request.

So, if you're asking yourself,  "can a landlord charge a in Texas, California, or any other state", chances are the answer is still no. But, there is an exception.

Your landlord can charge you a security deposit or seek money from you if the animal causes any damage to the home. They also have the right to go through legal proceedings to have the assistance animal removed if there's a nuisance issue.

Can Your Landlord Charge You Rent For Emotional Support Dog — Steps You Can Take

So, back to the question, can a landlord charge pet rent for emotional support animals in California or another state? Here are some steps you can take to avoid court proceedings.

Educate Yourself About ESA Animals and LettersTo make your emotional support animal "official", you need to have a licensed therapist issue you an ESA letter.  Also:

Learn ESA Housing LawsYour landlord has the right to request documentation from you before they allow you and your ESA to rent the unit.

This isn't the same as registering your ESA. You can have your ESA registered and order them a vest. However, they won't become an official ESA until you receive the ESA letter

Inform your Landlord of your ESAYou may be asking yourself, "can my landlord evict me for having a service dog?" If your therapist prescribed you an ESA as part of your treatment and you presently live in a "no pets" rental policy, under the FHA, you can't be evicted.

If you're moving into a new rental, you will need to request reasonable accommodations and explain to your landlord that you have an emotional/mental disability where you require an ESA.

After you've notified the landlord, you'll want to present them with your ESA letter and then, under HUD guidelines, they have 10 days to respond to your request.

How to Send a Security Deposit Demand Letter by Yourself

Remember, you have specific rights protecting you as an ESA owner. If you're presently living with an ESA and you have paid a deposit previously in connection with this companion, you could be entitled to a refund.

There are certain things to include in your written security deposit demand letter to your landlord. These include:

  • The rental address and date you started renting it
  • The amount of the security deposit you paid
  • Why you're entitled to the refund
  • The state laws requiring a deposit return in a timely manner
  • Any penalties for not having the deposit returned as required by law
  • The date your landlord should have gave you back the deposit
  • The deadline you expect to receive the deposit
  • The address the landlord should send the deposit
  • A concise statement that you'll file a lawsuit against the landlord if you don't receive the security deposit refund by your specified date

Some states require you to make a written demand for the security deposit return before you're able to sue the landlord in small claims court.

Steps to Take if the Landlord Rejects Your ESA and/or Security Deposit Demand Letter

1. Explain it's a federal law violation. Your landlord might not know they're legally required to rent to tenants with an ESA. Send them a demand letter by email, mail, text message, hard copy, or any other physical form.

2. Bring documentation from your mental health therapist or doctor verifying your ESA requirements and standing your ground.

3. If the landlord is being difficult, a lawyer can help you send the demand letter. They'll sign the letter and make a formal request for the landlord to stay in Fair Housing compliance.

4. If the landlord still refuses the ESA, you can go through the U.S. Department of Justice to report them. File a discrimination complaint. Having an attorney help you with this can help, but it's not necessary and it can be expensive.

Even if it's as easy as sending a demand letter, sadly, this can be expensive. Don't let your landlord take advantage of you. Take back your rights as a tenant now with DoNotPay.

How to Send a Security Deposit Demand Letter with DoNotPay

When your landlord rejects your ESA request, the only thing left to do is fight back. But starting a landlord dispute can be intimidating.

DoNotPay is here to guide you through it and file your disputes on your behalf. Our Landlord Protection product can help you:

  1. Get back your security deposits
  2. Learn about your state's eviction laws and what protections apply in your case
  3. Resolve disputes regarding repairs with your landlord
  4. Resolve disputes with roommates by filing demand letters or going through small claims court
  5. Break your lease early

All you need to do is to follow these 4 steps:

1. Search for and open the Landlord Protection product on DoNotPay.


2. Select which issue applies to you.


3. Answer a simple set of questions so our chatbot can collect the necessary information to create your demand letter.


4. Choose whether you want DoNotPay to send the demand letter to your landlord or roommate on your behalf. If you already tried sending a demand letter and it didn't work, we can help you start the small claims court process.

And that's it! You should hear back from your landlord directly once your demands are sent.

What Else Can DoNotPay Do?

Solving your ESA pet security deposit problem is just one of the many things DoNotPay can help you with. Try our other offerings:

Don't let a stubborn landlord violate your rights as an emotional support animal owner. You have the right to and DoNotPay will help!

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