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Emotional Support Animals Guidelines for Tampa Rental Property Owners

Tampa Tenant Petting Their Emotional Support DogTampa landlords are responsible for offering reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities. This also includes giving your permission for emotional support animals in your rental properties. But having said that, unfortunately, many landlords are unaware of their legal obligations or try to look for means to easily avoid them. This blog post will extend some very helpful guidelines for rental property owners concerning emotional support animals. We will, over and above that, also explain some of the serious ramifications of not observing the law.

Defining Emotional Support Animals

The first thing to consider is that emotional support animals are not the same as service animals. Service animals are specifically trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities, to cite an instance, guiding them around obstacles or helping them with daily tasks. On the other hand, emotional support animals bring companionship and emotional comfort. They do not have to have any special training. They are likewise not considered pets, so breed and size restrictions do not apply.

Emotional Support Animals and the Law

Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), landlords must provide reasonable accommodation for tenants with disabilities. This involves permitting emotional support animals in rental properties, even if your property is described as “pet-free.” Property owners are not permitted to charge additional pet deposits or higher rent if a tenant expresses their plan to keep an emotional support animal on the property.

There are one or a few exceptions to this rule, however, like if the animal is a danger to other tenants or if it causes some damage to the property. With that said, these exceptions are not an everyday occurrence and should not be used as an excuse to say no to a tenant’s request to have an emotional support animal.

Handling Tenant Requests for Emotional Support Animals

To qualify a tenant for an emotional support animal, you can press your tenant to provide a letter from a health professional. This letter most commonly states that the tenant has a mental or emotional disability, and the animal provides therapeutic benefits. However, it is illegal for a property owner to ask a tenant to provide specific details or even documentation of their disability.

So instead, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) states that a property owner must determine whether to grant their tenant’s request for an emotional support animal solely on the recommendation of a health care professional.

Consequences for Not Following the Law

Well, suppose a Tampa property manager declines a tenant’s request for an emotional support animal or tries to charge them additional fees. As a result, the tenant can file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD will investigate the complaint, and if they catch that the property manager has violated the law, they can impose penalties. These can result in civil fines, damages to the tenant, and even a court order imposing on the property manager to permit the emotional support animal on the property.


As we’ve noted, landlords need to understand their legal obligations regarding emotional support animals. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse and can generate grave penalties. If you have any questions about your pet policy, the Fair Housing Act, or emotional support animals, contact Real Property Management TradeWinds. We can effectively help you navigate state and federal laws and keep your rental property policies fully compliant with the law. Call us at 727-400-4722.

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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