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Your Rights as a Renter with a Service Animal

Disabled Southampton Renter in Wheelchair with Service DogIf you are a Southampton renter and have a service or emotional support animal, it is important to know your rights. Many renters are unaware that they can keep a service or emotional support animal in their rental homes, regardless of the property owner’s rules. This blog post will discuss the laws that protect renters who have service or emotional support animals. We will also provide tips on communicating with your property owner if there is an issue with keeping your service or emotional support animal in your home.

What is a service or emotional support animal, and what rights do you have under the law?

Service animals are defined as animals trained to perform tasks for those with disabilities. These duties can include but are not limited to guiding people who are blind, informing people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, notifying and supporting a person who is having a seizure, or calming a person with post-traumatic stress disorder.

An emotional support animal does not have to be trained to perform a specific service to provide benefits to its owners. Multiple companion animals can qualify as emotional support animals as long as you have a letter from your medical provider or therapist that indicates you need the animal.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are permitted in public places, including rental homes. Emotional support animals are not protected under the ADA but are allowed in rental homes, even if a landlord has a “no pet” policy. Service and emotional support animals are not classified as pets under the law, and therefore, property owners cannot charge pet fees or deposits for them.

How to handle deposits, fees, and other costs associated with having a service or emotional support animal.

If you possess a service or emotional support animal, you are not compelled to pay any pet fees or deposits. Yet, you may be liable for damages caused by your animal. Let’s say if your animal chews on furniture or urinates on the flooring, or if you fail to get rid of the animal’s waste, you will surely be charged for those repairs. It is imperative to have a conversation with your property owner about your service or emotional support animal before signing a lease. This can help lessen misunderstandings about your rights and responsibilities as a renter.

Some landlords may ask that you show proof of insurance for your service or emotional support animal. This is not obliged by law, but it is something you should be prepared to confront with your Southampton property manager.

What to do if your landlord tries to evict you for having a service or emotional support animal.

Assume your landlord tried to evict you (or refuses to rent to you) for having a service or emotional support animal. For that reason, you may have grounds to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The department’s Civil Rights Division enforces the Fair Housing Act, which outlaws discrimination in housing based on disability.

You can also file a complaint with your state’s attorney general’s office or the human rights commission. These agencies may evaluate your complaint and take legal action against your landlord if they believe that you’ve been discriminated against.

If you experience eviction because of your service or emotional support animal, it is imperative to seek legal help as fast as possible. An experienced attorney can help you comprehend your rights and options under the law.

Resources for further information on renters’ rights and service or emotional support animals.

For more information on your rights as a renter, you can consult the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD enforces the Fair Housing Act and can investigate complaints of discrimination in housing.

You can also seek additional information on service and emotional support animals at the ADA National Network website. The ADA National Network is a tool to gather information and technical emotional support on the Americans with Disabilities Act.


You and your service or emotional support animal can live comfortably in your rental home by knowing your rights. But if your landlord is standing in the way of your rights, it might be time to move to a place managed by professionals who understand and follow the law. Browse our listings for service animal-friendly rental homes in your area.

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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