An emotional support animal is, “an animal that provides emotional, cognitive, or other similar support,” to a disabled California tenant.  California Government Code § 122319.5(a).  Emotional support animals do not need to be trained or certified.  IdCalifornia tenants with disabilities have the right to keep an emotional support animal in their home under the Federal Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), California’s Fair Employment & Housing Act (“FEHA”), and the California Unruh Civil Rights Act (“Unruh Act”).  42 USC §§ 3601-3621; California Government Code §§ 12955-12956.2; California Civil Code § 51.  An emotional support animal may constitute a reasonable accommodation.  2 Cal. Code Regs. § 11065(a)(3); (p)(2)(B).

Can the Landlord Charge a California Tenant for Keeping an Emotional Support Animal in their Home?

The landlord may not charge a fee, additional rent, or deposit for an emotional support animal

No.  A landlord may not charge a fee, additional rent, or a deposit where a California tenant seeks to keep an emotional support dog in their home.  42 USCS § 3604 (f)(3)(B); 24 CFR § 100.204(b); Joint Statement of the Dept. of Housing and Urban Dev. and the Dept. of Justice, “Reasonable Accommodations under the Fair Housing Act,” at p. 9, ¶11, Example 2 (May 17, 2004); 2 Cal. Code Regs. § 11065(a)(1)(D) (Defining “support dog” as an “assistive animal.”).

Please note that this does not apply to an emotional support animal that damages the rental unit or property common areas.  Here, the landlord may charge the California tenant repair costs.

Does a California Tenant Violate a “No Pets” Policy by Keeping an Emotional Support Animal in their Home?

An emotional support animal is not a pet

No.  Under FEHA, an emotional support animal is not a pet.  California Government Code § 122319.5(a) (Defining an “emotional support animal,” as, “an animal,” and not a pet.); Service Animals and Assistance Animals for Persons with Disabilities in Housing and HUD-Funded Programs, FHEO Notice: FHEO-2013-01 (April 25, 2013), p. 2 (“An assistance animal is not a pet.”).  Therefore, disabled California tenants may keep emotional support animals in their homes despite a written lease provision prohibiting pets.

What is the Best Law Firm to Handle California Emotional Support Animal Disability Discrimination Claims?

Astanehe Law is the best landlord-tenant law firm to handle California tenant emotional support animal disability discrimination claims.  Astanehe Law has successfully resolved numerous landlord-tenant cases throughout California, including for many tenants suffering disability discrimination relating to their need for an emotional support animal as a reasonable accommodation.  The firm only represents California tenants, and never landlords.  It is never too early to establish a relationship with an experienced California tenant attorney when the landlord attempts to charge additional rent, a pet deposit, or an additional fee for keeping an emotional support animal.  Contact Astanehe Law to discuss your rights and options as a California tenant as they pertain to emotional support animals as a reasonable accommodation under FEHA and the FHA.