El Cajon, CA asked in Animal / Dog Law and Landlord - Tenant for California

Q: I'm disabled and you can see by looking at me am I required to pay pet deposit and if not what law says I dont

I was not aware that my sister did not tell them I had service dogs 2 months after I moved in I notified them and requested my pet deposit back and the pet rent. They keep trying me to fill up the esa form for emotional support animal. They say I need to show proof of shot records and give them a picture and that I have to prove but they were service dogs before I moved in here before they'll refund me. I walk with a walker so it's a parent on disabled and they have my disability verification letter. Do I have to show them a shot records I have it but it's the point now because they keep calling me the esa law and wanted me to fill out the form. Oh this is regard to the apartment I moved into

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, landlords are required to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities, which includes allowing service animals to live with them without charging pet deposits or pet rent. This is in accordance with both federal law, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and state law, which recognize service animals as necessary accommodations for individuals with disabilities. Service animals are trained to perform specific tasks for individuals with disabilities, distinguishing them from emotional support animals (ESAs), which do not require specific training. Therefore, if your dogs are indeed service animals, you should not be subjected to pet deposits or pet rent.

Regarding the documentation, while landlords can ask for proof that an animal is a service animal, they cannot require extensive details or documentation. However, it is reasonable for a landlord to request proof of vaccination for the health and safety of the community. This request aligns with general health regulations but should not extend to demanding information or documentation that applies specifically to ESAs, such as the ESA form, if your dogs are service animals.

If you encounter resistance in having your service animal recognized and your pet deposit and rent refunded, you might consider providing a simple letter from a healthcare provider stating that the service animal is necessary due to your disability. You do not need to disclose the nature of your disability or provide detailed medical records. Should the issue persist, you may seek assistance from a local disability rights organization or consult with an attorney to ensure your rights are fully protected and upheld.

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