Right to emotional support animals in “no pet” housing.

Advocates and professionals have long recognized the benefits of assistive animals for people with physical disabilities. Recent research suggests the people with psychiatric disabilities can also benefit significantly from assistive animals. Emotional support animals have proven extremely effective at ameliorating the symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder by providing therapeutic nurture and support.

Under the ADA and Rehab Act changes from 2010, effective March 15, 2011, only dogs and miniature horses are service animals under Titles II and III of the ADA. (Public entities and public accommodations.) Therapeutic animals or emotional support animals other than dogs may be asserted as a reasonable accommodation under the FHAA.

The request must be made to the landlord in writing along with the supporting documentation. That should include the letter from the health professional and something demonstrating a relationship between the ability of the tenant to function and the companionship of the animal.

The landlord is allowed to consider the administrative, financial or programmatic repercussions of allowing an animal onto the premises. If the landlord agrees to allow the animal but wants to charge an excessive deposit, the HUD regulations says “service animals that assist persons with disabilities are considered aids and are exempt from the pet policy and the refundable pet deposit. Examples include seeing eye dogs, hearing dogs and emotional assistance animals.”


Dear Housing Authority/ Landlord,

Mr X is my patient and has been under my care since (date). I am intimately familiar with her history and with the functional limitations imposed by his disability. He meets the definition of disability under the ADA, FHA and the Rehab Act of 1973.

Due to his psychiatric disability, Mr X has certain limitations regarding coping with stress and anxiety. In order to help him alleviate these difficulties and to enhance his ability to live independently and to fully use and enjoy his apartment, I am prescribing (or have prescribed) an emotional support animal that (is helping him)(will) help him cope with his disability.

I will be happy to share extensive professional literature concerning the therapeutic benefits of emotional support animals as well as answer any questions you may have concerning my recommendation for Mr X. Please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you.