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Emotional Support Animals Guidelines for Alexandria Rental Property Owners

Alexandria Tenant Petting Their Emotional Support DogAlexandria landlords are in charge of offering reasonable accommodation for tenants with disabilities. These encompass authorizing emotional support animals in rental properties. But really, most landlords are unaware of their legal obligations or try to use whatever means to avoid them. This blog post will touch on a handful of useful guidelines for rental property owners in regards to emotional support animals. We will additionally talk about the unwanted consequences of not complying with the law.

Defining Emotional Support Animals

The first thing to comprehend is that emotional support animals are not the same as service animals. Service animals are specifically trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities, for example, guiding them around obstacles or helping them with daily tasks. On the other hand, emotional support animals contribute companionship and emotional comfort. They certainly do not require any special training. They are not considered pets, so breed and size restrictions do not apply.

Emotional Support Animals and the Law

Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), landlords must present reasonable accommodation for tenants with disabilities. This certainly includes allowing emotional support animals in rental properties, even if your property is termed as “pet-free.” Property owners are not even allowed to charge additional pet deposits or higher rent if a tenant intends to keep an emotional support animal on the property.

There are however a few acceptable exceptions to this rule, including if the animal is a danger to other tenants or if it causes too great of damage to the property. But really, these exceptions are rare and should not be used as an excuse to turn down a tenant’s request to have an emotional support animal.

Handling Tenant Requests for Emotional Support Animals

To qualify a tenant for an emotional support animal, you can ask your tenant to provide a letter from a health professional. This letter usually includes information that the tenant has a mental or emotional disability, and that the animal provides therapeutic benefits. Though even if that’s the case, however, it is illegal for a property owner to ask a tenant to provide specific details or even documentation of their disability.

Having said that, instead, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) states that a property owner must determine whether to grant their tenant’s request for an emotional support animal solely on the recommendation of a health care professional.

Consequences for Not Following the Law

So, let us suppose an Alexandria property manager denies a tenant’s request for an emotional support animal or tries to charge them additional fees. Accordingly, the tenant can file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD will investigate the complaint, and if they confirm that the property manager has violated the law, they can impose penalties. These can include civil fines, damages to the tenant, and even a court order dictating the property manager to authorize the emotional support animal on the property.


As discussed, landlords need to understand their legal obligations regarding emotional support animals. Ignorance of the law is certainly not an excuse and can result in grave penalties. If you have any questions as to your pet policy, the Fair Housing Act, or emotional support animals, contact Real Property Management Optimum. We can surely help you navigate state and federal laws and keep your rental property policies fully compliant with the law. Call us at 320-289-4649.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.

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