Chico, CA asked in Real Estate Law and Animal / Dog Law for California

Q: What can I do to have my dog live with me as an Emotional support animal at an apartment complex with a "no dogs" policy

I live in an apartment with a no dogs policy. my dog is not registered as an Emotional Support animal, but both my roommate and I would qualify as disabled due to her anxiety and my anxiety and depression (all diagnosed by healthcare professionals). What can I do to have my dog live with me? Does my dog have to be registered as an ESA? What are my rights?

2 Lawyer Answers
Sagar Parikh
Sagar Parikh
Answered
  • Beverly Hills, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Typically, you would provide a letter from your healthcare professional stating that you need an ESA to your landlord or property manager.

A full consultation would be necessary to properly advise you.

William John Light
William John Light
Answered
  • Animal & Dog Law Lawyer
  • Riverside, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: California’s Disabled Persons Act allows tenants and housing applicants with disabilities have the right to bring a service animal into housing unless the dog would present a direct threat to others or fundamentally alter the nature of the housing. Unless there is a reason to believe that an animal poses a threat, a housing provider can ask only two questions to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal: 1) whether the animal is required because of the handler’s disability; and 2) what work or task the animal has been trained to perform.

A landlord or other housing provider may be required to waive a “no-pets” rule as a reasonable accommodation in order to allow a tenant with a disability to live with a service or emotional support animal. However, the accommodation will not be considered reasonable if the animal would: pose a direct threat to other tenants; cause substantial physical harm to property; impose an undue financial or administrative burden on the landlord; or fundamentally alter the nature of the services that the landlord provides. As the owner of a service or emotional support animal, you are responsible for taking care of that animal. You must also ensure that the animal complies with state and local animal control laws, and is not a danger or a nuisance to the community.

If possible, you should make your request to keep a service or emotional support animal in writing. In the request, you should explain that you are a person with a disability, and why you need the animal to live with you as a reasonable accommodation to a no-pets policy. You should ask the housing provider to get back to you before a certain date.

In response to your request, the housing provider may ask for a letter from your doctor or other medical professional confirming that you have a disability, and stating why you need a service or emotional support animal to live with you. However, the housing provider does not have the right to demand a copy of your medical records, a specific diagnosis, or permission to speak with your health care provider directly.

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