Support Animals 101: A Guide for Landlords in Chevy Chase, Maryland

Support Animals 101: A Guide for Landlords in Chevy Chase, Maryland

Up to one in five people experience a mental health struggle of some kind. It's incredibly common, and people have found many ways to soothe themselves and put their minds at ease. Support animals are one popular solution.

Many landlords don't understand support animals. Aren't they the same as pets? You don't really need to allow them on your pet-free property, right?

We're here to provide a quick overview of emotional support animals so you don't accidentally discriminate against any potentially great tenants. Read on to learn more.

What Are Support Animals?

Emotional support animals (otherwise known as ESAs) are animal companions that provide comfort to people who are dealing with emotional or mental health issues.

These animals are often cats or dogs, but they can really be any type of animal as there's very little regulation in the world of ESA laws.

They're prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to help their owners cope with conditions like anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Their presence and affection can help their owners feel calmer and more supported during difficult times.

ESAs are allowed to accompany their owners in certain places, including rental homes, despite any pre-existing pet policies. Their owners should be able to produce a letter from their mental health professional as proof. There is no official registry of ESAs, however, so it's inappropriate to ask for a registration.

Are Support Animals the Same as Pets or Service Animals?

ESAs are not the same as simple pets or service animals.

ESAs are similar to pets, certainly, but with the added benefit of being good for someone's mental health. If someone has an ESA, it's clear that their mental health professional thought that it would be beneficial for them to have this animal companion around.

Service animals are for people with other types of disabilities or illnesses, such as blindness, epilepsy, diabetes, and more. These animals require special training to perform tasks to help their owners.

Unlike service animals, emotional support animals don't require any special training.

Must You Allow Support Animals on Your Property?

In most cases, landlords must allow emotional support animals. This is true even if they have a no-pet policy. Remember that these animals are accommodations for people with mental or emotional health issues, and by disallowing them, you may be guilty of discrimination.

If accommodating the animal would be too much of a hardship (for example, if it's a safety issue or someone on the property has severe allergies), there may be exceptions.

Landlords can also not charge pet rent or pet deposits for ESAs.

Support Animals: Helpful Animal Companions

Support animals aren't just pets. They're animal companions for people who often need that companionship first. They're also common, so if you're a landlord, you'll likely have several on your property at some point.

Understanding federal guidelines and regulations regarding rental properties can be tricky. Why not invest in property management services to help? At PMI Chevy Chase, we help homeowners turn their rental properties into passive income.

Schedule a consult today.