Emotional Support Animals: What You Need to Know

A TurboTenant Webinar
January 23, 2023

Emotional support animals (ESAs) have been a hot-button topic in the rental industry for years. We explain what an ESA is, the national rules regarding ESAs in rental units, and how to protect your business from running afoul of the Fair Housing Act.

The Essence of Emotional Support Animals

ESAs are often misunderstood entities in the landlord-tenant relationship. They serve a significant purpose for tenants with mental or emotional disabilities, such as anxiety or depression. Unlike service animals, ESAs don’t require special training and are protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

Key Takeaways from the Session

  • Differentiating between ESAs, service animals, and companion animals.
  • Understanding the timing and legitimacy of ESA registration during tenancy.
  • The importance of an ESA housing letter and meeting federal and state qualifications.
  • Recognizing that ESAs are not just limited to cats and dogs – they can range from donkeys to hedgehogs!
  • Navigating the legal aspects and potential risks involved with ESAs in rental properties.

Legal Implications and Landlord Responsibilities

  • Landlords cannot refuse ESAs based on breed, species, or weight restrictions.
  • The Fair Housing Act mandates no additional fees for ESAs, but landlords can use security deposits for any damages caused.
  • Understanding exemptions and the circumstances under which landlords may not need to comply with the FHA.
  • The importance of responding promptly and appropriately to ESA requests.

Managing ESA Requests and Protecting Your Business

  • Verifying the legitimacy of an ESA housing letter.
  • Engaging in constructive dialogues with tenants about ESA requests.
  • Ensuring compliance with local laws and consulting real estate attorneys for specific cases.

Case Studies and FAQs

The session included interactive polls and case studies, helping attendees apply their knowledge to real-life scenarios. We addressed frequently asked questions, providing clarity on topics like handling multiple ESAs, dealing with ESA-related disturbances, and the nuances of tenant requests.


Navigating the world of ESAs as a landlord can be challenging, but with the right knowledge and approach, it’s manageable. Our session aimed to equip landlords with the necessary tools and understanding to handle ESA requests effectively, balancing the needs of their business with the legitimate needs of their tenants.

Source & Guest Links


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