Emotional support animals help their handlers deal with stress, anxiety, depression, etc., thus enjoy certain privileges under the Texas and federal laws. In this post, we are going to cover the following topics-
Can you live with your emotional support dog in a Texas apartment?
Federal and Texas laws for emotional support animals
Steps to rent an apartment in Texas with your ESA
How to get an emotional support dog letter?
Know The Federal Laws
There are two major federal laws that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities-
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA protects individuals with disabilities against discrimination, in areas including employment, schools, transportation, and access to all public and private places. The main purpose of this law is to ensure that people with disabilities get the same opportunities as everyone else.
Under the ADA, emotional support animals aren’t considered as service animals, which are trained to perform certain tasks for their handlers. ESAs are comfort animals that help their handlers fight loneliness, certain phobias, anxiety, depression, etc. And, they don’t require any special training to perform their tasks.
Fair Housing Act (FHA)
The FHA prohibits discrimination by housing providers, such as landlords and real estate companies. Under this law, individuals can’t be discriminated in housing on the basis of race, disability, religion, sex, national origin, or family status.
The FHA defines “disability” as a physical/mental impairment that affects one’s major life activities. Housing providers must make “reasonable accommodation” to allow tenants to live with their emotional support animals. This law also applies to regions with “no-pet” policies.
A no-pet policy is a clause in the lease agreement. It says that a tenant can’t live with any kind of pet in the rental property. Some landlords have policies to restrict certain animals or breeds.
However, tenants requesting for reasonable accommodation under the FHA are required to show the link between their disabilities and tasks performed by their assistance animals.
Can You Live With Your Emotional Support Dog in a Texas Apartment?
Yes. Under the Texas law and federal FHA, housing facilities should allow service dogs and emotional support dogs, in case they are necessary for tenants to have equal opportunities to use the dwellings. And, for this, they can’t charge any pet fees or deposits. If you want to live with your ESA in an apartment, you must be diagnosed with a disability your animal provides assistance for.
A dwelling is any building, structure or portion designed to accommodate one or multiple families. Or, it can be a vacant land offered for sale or lease.
Types of housing covered under the FHA
When renting an apartment, it’s important to tell your landlord about your emotional support animal. Your landlord can ask you the following questions-
Do you have a disability?
Does your assistance animal provide required support to help with your symptoms?
“Yes” to these questions means you are covered under the state and federal housing laws.
To live with your emotional support dog in a rented apartment, you may require to provide your landlord with documentation from a licensed mental health professional stating that you are disabled & require an ESA to deal with your symptoms.
However, your landlord has the right to ask you for your emotional support dog letter. But, they may not ask you how severe your disability is or demand your medical records.
Moreover, your landlord can ask you whether your assistance dog is healthy & vaccinated.
What if your ESA damages the rental property? According to the HUD, if a housing provider has a policy to charge tenants for damage to the dwelling beyond normal wear & tear, the tenants may have to cover the costs for repairs of the damages caused by their ESAs..
Although ESA training isn’t necessary by law, still you should teach your assistance animal with basic commands. This will help you control your emotional support dog in public and reduce the risks of damage to the dwelling and other tenants.
When Can a Landlord Deny Your Emotional Support Dog?
Usually, housing providers can’t deny reasonable accommodation to tenants with emotional support dogs. However, they can do so in certain situations. The FHA doesn’t apply to buildings that have-
Four units or less & one unit is occupied by the owner
Single-family homes that are rented by the owner without a realtor
Housing owned by private clubs or religious organizations
Additionally, a landlord or housing provider may deny your request for reasonable accommodation if your assistance animal has become a threat to others. Or, it causes substantial damage to others’ properties.
Guide to Renting a Texas Apartment With Your Emotional Support Dog
Here are some steps you should follow when requesting your landlord for a reasonable accommodation-
Get an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional
Tell your landlord that you have a disability, which can be managed with your emotional support dog
Read the landlord’s lease agreement & follow the rules & regulations
Make sure your ESA is well-behaved
If your landlord continues discriminating against your emotional support dog, you can file an HUD complaint online. Here’s the link-
How to Get an Emotional Support Dog Letter in Texas?
To get an emotional support dog letter in Texas, you need to consult a licensed mental health professional. At My ESA Doctor, you can see a therapist online for an ESA letter. Here’s the process-
Register your account online
Fill a prequalification form. It will take a few minutes
Talk to a therapist via video call
If approved, you will get your ESA letter in PDF format via email Related: https://myesadoctor.com/blog/do-emotional-support-animal-letters-expire-how-do-i-get-a-renewal
In conclusion, federal and Texas laws allow you to live with your emotional support dog in a rental property. However, you must prove your disability and need for your assistance animal to your landlord i.e. by showing an ESA letter signed by a licensed therapist.
But, if your dog is causing damage to others’ properties or has become a threat for them, your landlord may deny you reasonable accommodation. Thus training your ESA is important despite it isn’t required by law.
Talk to our therapists to apply for your emotional support dog letter today!