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Your Rights as a Renter with a Service Animal

Disabled St Louis Renter in Wheelchair with Service DogIf you are a St. Louis renter and have a service or emotional support animal, it is best to be aware of your rights. Various renters are uninformed that, no matter what the property owner’s rules, they can keep a service or emotional support animal in their rental homes. In this blog post, we will talk about the laws that protect renters who have service or emotional support animals. We will also give 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 individuals with disabilities. These responsibilities can include but are not limited to guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and securing a person who is having a seizure, or calming a person with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are legal 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 viewed 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 have a service or emotional support animal, you are not mandated to pay any pet fees or deposits. Though, you may be responsible for damages caused by your animal. To give an instance, if your animal chews on furniture or urinates on the flooring, or if you perform poorly in cleaning up the animal’s waste, you will be charged for those repairs. It is recommended to have a conversation with your property owner about your service or emotional support animal before signing a lease. This will help mitigate misunderstandings about your rights and responsibilities as a renter.

Some landlords may wish that you show proof of insurance for your service or emotional support animal. This is not mandated by law, but it is something you should be prepared to address with your St. Louis property manager.

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

Suppose your landlord is trying to evict you (or refuses to rent to you) for having a service or emotional support animal. In that case, 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 analyze your complaint and take legal action against your landlord if they consider that you have been discriminated against.

If you are confronting eviction owing to your service or emotional support animal, it is beneficial to seek legal help immediately. An experienced attorney can help you know 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 ask 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 receive additional information on service and emotional support animals at the ADA National Network website. The ADA National Network is an excellent source of information and technical emotional support on the Americans with Disabilities Act.


By learning your rights, you and your service or psychological support animal may live happily in your rental home. But if your landlord is standing in the way of your rights, it might be time to move to a residence managed by professionals who know 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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