Are you facing issues with your landlord over having an emotional support animal at home? It’s a common challenge for many. This blog shines a light on whether landlords can say no to an emotional support dog or other pets and the laws that protect tenants.

We’ll guide you through what to do if your landlord denies your request for an emotional support pet, making sure you know your rights. Don’t miss out on this valuable advice.

Understanding Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are animals that provide comfort and support to individuals with mental health conditions. They are protected under the ADA and Fair Housing Act, ensuring their eligibility for reasonable accommodations in housing.

Definition and eligibility

An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) helps people with mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and stress. To be eligible for an ESA, a person must have a diagnosis from a healthcare professional.

This diagnosis proves that their pet is vital for their emotional health. The animal does not need special training like service animals do.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 plays a role here too. It says contracts must not have “unfair terms”. So, if you live in England and your tenancy agreement bans pets, this may conflict with the law if you need an ESA for your well-being.

Also, under the Equality Act, refusing someone an assistance dog because of their disability might be discrimination. A landlord can’t just say no to an emotional support pet without looking into it closely first.

If you have a proper ESA letter from a registered mental health professional showing your need for the animal, landlords should consider your request fairly according to fair housing laws.

Regulations and protections under the ADA and Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) set rules to protect people with disabilities. These laws make sure landlords allow emotional support animals in rental properties, even if they usually say no to pets.

This means if you have a mental disability like anxiety disorder or panic attacks and a licensed mental health professional writes you an emotional support animal letter, your landlord must consider it.

Landlords must also not charge pet fees or ask for a pet deposit for emotional support animals. They can only say no if the animal causes significant property damage or adds undue financial burden on them.

But these cases are rare. The law asks landlords to make reasonable adjustments so tenants with disabilities feel at home with their emotional support animals. This shows how serious responsibility falls on housing providers to respect and follow these protections for people who need them the most.

Responsibilities of landlords

Moving from the regulations and protections, landlords have key duties they must follow. They need to know about laws like the Fair Housing Act. This law says they must let tenants with disabilities have their emotional support animals.

Even if a rental property usually says “no pets,” this rule does not apply to emotional support dogs or other therapy animals. Landlords cannot just say no because of a no-pets policy if a tenant shows them an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional.

Landlords also need to check their insurance policies, making sure they cover situations involving emotional support animals in their apartment complex or dormitories. They should understand that denying an ESA without a solid reason might be seen as discrimination under the Equality Act.

So, landlords should always act fairly and respect tenants’ rights while managing their properties wisely.

Can a Landlord Legally Deny an ESA?

Can a landlord legally deny an ESA? What are the reasons for denial and how to handle it?

Reasons for denial

Landlords sometimes say no to emotional support animals. This happens for various reasons, each tied to certain rules and conditions.

  1. The property has a strict no-pets policy in the lease agreement, making it tough for tenants to have emotional support animals.
  2. A landlord might worry about damage to the property, leading them to ask for a higher security deposit or deny the ESA altogether.
  3. There could be concerns over liability coverage if the emotional support animal hurts someone or damages another tenant’s belongings.
  4. Properties that are too small might not have enough space for bigger ESAs, which can lead landlords to refuse them.
  5. Some landlords fear extra costs like cleaning fees or needing more property insurance because of the animal.
  6. If a tenant cannot provide a valid ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional, the landlord may reject the request.
  7. Landlords can deny an ESA if they believe the animal poses a threat to other tenants or their peaceful living due to noise, like barking or meowing.
  8. In buildings with only a few flats owned by private landlords who live in one of those units, exemptions exist that allow them to refuse ESAs without breaking discrimination laws.
  9. If accepting an ESA would cause undue financial hardship on the landlord or negatively impact their rental income significantly.
  10. Emotional support animals that are not commonly kept in residential settings might be refused entry due to concerns over animal welfare or local regulations.

Each of these points reflects careful consideration of both tenant rights under laws like the Equality Act and Fair Housing Act and landlord rights regarding their property management responsibilities.

Exceptions and considerations

A landlord can say no to an Emotional Support Animal in some cases. These exceptions depend on clear reasons and specific conditions.

  1. Size and type of the property play a role. If the building has four or fewer places to live, and the landlord lives in one of them, ESA rules might not apply.
  2. Insurance issues matter too. A landlord’s insurance may not cover certain breeds of dogs or animals seen as high risk. This could lead to a legal denial of an ESA.
  3. Private clubs and religious organisations that offer housing have special rules. They might not have to follow the same laws regarding ESAs.
  4. Safety concerns are valid reasons for denial. If an animal shows signs of aggression or poses a direct threat to others, a landlord can deny it space.
  5. The tenant’s failure to provide a legitimate esa letter from a licensed mental health professional is another reason for refusal.
  6. Structural changes that are too large or expensive might not be reasonable adjustments landlords have to make for ESAs.
  7. If accommodating an ESA would cause undue financial hardship on the landlord, this could be grounds for denial.
  8. Existing tenants with severe allergies to animals in small complexes where close contact is unavoidable could also be a valid reason for an ESA denial.
  9. The animal’s inability to live peacefully within the community due to its behaviour or noise levels can lead to denial.
  10. Lack of evidence showing the tenant’s disability significantly limits one or more major life activities could result in ESA requests being turned down.

In any situation where a landlord considers denying an ESA, they must weigh their decision against legal obligations under fair housing regulations while considering the rights and needs of all parties involved, including other residents and neighbours.

How to handle a landlord denying an ESA

Finding out your landlord has denied your request for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) can be stressful. Here’s how you can handle the situation effectively.

  1. Read over your tenancy agreement carefully to understand any clauses related to pets and ensure there are no unfair terms under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
  2. Gather all necessary documents, including your ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional, to prove your need for the emotional support pet.
  3. Explain how the Equality Act protects tenants with disabilities, including those requiring an ESA, making it illegal for landlords to discriminate.
  4. If you own a service dog due to a disability and face refusal, highlight how this may be seen as discrimination under current laws.
  5. Present evidence showing that your emotional support animal does not pose a threat or liability to the property or other tenants.
  6. Offer to get renters insurance that covers liabilities related to your emotional support animal if this addresses any concerns of the landlord.
  7. Request a meeting with your landlord or lettings agent to discuss their worries and provide reassurances about how you intend to manage your ESA responsibly.
  8. If initial discussions don’t lead to a resolution, consider getting advice from organisations specialised in animal welfare or tenant rights.
  9. As a last resort, explore legal advice on discrimination regarding housing and disabilities if you feel your rights under the law are being violated.

Taking these steps helps address issues directly and respectfully, often leading to a positive outcome for both parties involved.


Landlords can say no to an Emotional Support Animal, but they must have a good reason. The law protects people with disabilities who need these animals for support. If you have an ESA letter from a health professional, your landlord should let your animal live with you.

It’s all about fairness and making sure everyone gets the help they need. So, if you’re facing issues with getting approval for your emotional support pet, check the rules and talk to someone who can help.


1. Can my landlord say no to my emotional support animal?

Yes, in some cases. If having the animal goes against the tenancy agreements or if the building has rules about pets, a landlord might say no. But often, with proper esa letters and medical records showing need due to mental impairment or illness, they must allow it.

2. Do I need special papers for my emotional support pet in an apartment?

You do need special papers called ESA letters from a doctor or therapist. These show that your pet helps with conditions like anxiety or depression and is not just a regular pet.

3. Are emotional support animals allowed on planes like British Airways or budget airlines?

Most airlines, including British Airways, easyJet, and Ryanair allow emotional support pets but you must have correct ESA letters and follow their specific rules about travelling with animals.

4. What about bringing my emotional support animal to college dorms?

Many colleges allow emotional support animals in dorms as long as you have an ESA letter proving your need for one due to a handicap or mental health condition.

5. Is there insurance I should get for my emotional support animal in case of damage?

It’s smart to get liability insurance for your emotional support animal especially if living in rented apartments where damage might lead to compensation claims by landlords.