Since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not consider ESAs to be the same as the average pet, the “no pet” policies of apartment and housing complexes do not apply to ESAs. This also means that ESAs cannot be discriminated against based on their size or breed, and their owners are not subject to paying additional fees for their ESAs to live with them.
You will need to have your ESA letter as proof of documentation, and the letter will include information such as your mental health professional’s contact and licensing information. It will further serve as proof that you have a disability but do not necessarily need to list the specifics of your disability. Also, your landlord is not allowed to ask you for more information about your disability.
It is illegal for your landlord to ask for personal material such as your own medical records. However, it is good practice to keep your ESA’s vet records up to date. By showing proof of his updated vaccinations and preventive care, this shows that your ESA will not pose a public health risk to other tenants or neighbors. It can also serve as proof that your ESA is a well-behaved good citizen!
If your landlord rejects your ESA and denies him access to your living quarters, you should ask for a formal letter of rejection from your landlord or the housing development. You can then file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by filling out a form online through the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO). You can find the form here.
Even though ESAs are not afforded the same protections as Service Dogs, ESAs are permitted with you on an airplane and can live with you even if your housing development has a strict “no pet” policy. This is because the Americans with Disabilities Act does not consider an ESA to be a pet, and so ESAs are not subject to rules against pets.
An ESA letter from your mental health professional is necessary for proof, but your landlord cannot ask for personal medical information from you. If you and your ESA are being discriminated against, you can file a complaint online.