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Are Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals different?

Are Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals different?

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) are a big topic in the rental world today. It’s generally quite understood that Service Animals (SAs) must be allowed, but ESAs are a different story.

I frequently see landlords or property managers denying people with ESAs, guests with ESAs, especially when the pet is a pit bull (often the breed we see used as ESAs - for obvious reasons).

Whether you’re dealing with an ESA or a SA, it’s important to remember they are a tool, NOT a pet. Don’t call it a pet. Don’t use a pet addendum. Again, it is NOT A PET. This is no different than your tenant having a cane or a medication.

The penalties are extreme for failing to allow or discriminating against a tenant with an ESA or SA. We all know there is abuse within this system - and I’m not here to comment on that. If someone wants their pet to be labeled an ESA, they’ll get it labeled. It’s extremely easy.

Thankfully a tenant is fully responsible for damages caused by an ESA or SA, and you as a landlord are not required a take an extreme financial burden just because someone has an ESA or SA.

That said, what’s important is to keep yourself out of trouble - as landlords and agents.