Click here for Top Ten Discussions. CLICK HERE for Q & A Homepage
Receive Free Rental Owner Updates Email:  
MrLandlord Q & A
ESA 2 (by Lana [IN]) Aug 11, 2017 11:22 AM
       ESA 2 (by John... [MI]) Aug 11, 2017 12:35 PM
       ESA 2 (by Ken [NY]) Aug 11, 2017 12:51 PM
       ESA 2 (by John... [MI]) Aug 11, 2017 12:59 PM
       ESA 2 (by John... [MI]) Aug 11, 2017 12:59 PM
       ESA 2 (by Ken [NY]) Aug 11, 2017 2:35 PM
       ESA 2 (by Gene [OH]) Aug 11, 2017 4:45 PM
       ESA 2 (by Vee [OH]) Aug 11, 2017 5:06 PM
       ESA 2 (by phil [NY]) Aug 11, 2017 5:22 PM
       ESA 2 (by John... [MI]) Aug 11, 2017 5:31 PM
       ESA 2 (by Lana [IN]) Aug 11, 2017 5:53 PM
       ESA 2 (by BRAD 20,000 [IN]) Aug 11, 2017 7:04 PM
       ESA 2 (by Barb [MO]) Aug 12, 2017 9:27 AM

ESA 2 (by Lana [IN]) Posted on: Aug 11, 2017 11:22 AM

In my previous post, I stated I wanted to only accept ESA/Service dog letters from practitioners that actually know the tenant rather than and out of state online letter scam: I have drawn up an application and would appreciate critique.


(To be filled out by Applicant)


Applicant’s name: ___________________________________

Rental Address Applying for:_____________________________

Dear Landlord,

I have a disability as defined by the fair housing laws. I use a service/assistance

Animal to assist me with the functional limitations related to my disability. My

Service/assistance animal enhances my ability to live independently, and to use and enjoy my dwelling fully.

Type of Assistive animal:

Service Animal____

Emotional support animal___


Description of service/assistive animal (dog, cat, etc, and breed): _____________________________________________________

Description of the service provided by animal(If not immediately apparent such as a seeing eye dog)__________________________________________________

As an accommodation for my disability, I request that you waive your “no pet” policy, waive your pet height/weight restrictions, and waive your pet deposit/rents.

I will provide the following documentation:

1) Animal rabies/vaccination records

2) I will attach a letter from my doctor or other medical professional who in their professional capacity, has knowledge about my disability, and my need for a reasonable accommodation. This is a practitioner who has direct knowledge of my disability and is licensed to practice in the state of my residence. The letter verifies that I have a disability as defined in the fair housing laws, and that I have a disability-related need for a service/assistive animal. I will submit a renewal letter yearly.

Signature of Applicant

Printed name of Applicant

ESA 2 (by John... [MI]) Posted on: Aug 11, 2017 12:35 PM

Here are my quick thoughts:

1. This doesn't appear to cover Emotional Support Animals. I think I'd change "assistive" (is that a word even?) to "Support" if you mean to cover both by this. ESAs are not required to provide "assistance."

2. Again, the animal does not need to "assist" with "functional limitations." As an example, an ESA is used to help the disabled person "have the same opportunity as a non-disabled person to use and enjoy the housing and/or housing community." So, I'm not sure you need that line at all.

3. "Animal rabies/vaccination records" -- Are these required by all animals by local law/ordinance? If not, this can be a problem. Also, an ESA can technically be a snake or a goat or whatever -- and those animals might not even HAVE such things as rabies vaccination. So, you might work around this and word it something like "Animal rabies/vaccination records as required by law"?

4. I said this in the other thread and I'll repeat it here. I'm not sure you can require that the healthcare professional is licensed in your state. I mean, if someone was living in Michigan and seeing a therapist that gave documentation for an ESA 3 months ago -- and then they move to Indiana and give that to you for the rental, then I think you'd likely be in violation of the FHAA to say that you won't accept them or their ESA because their therapist is licensed in Michigan.

Note that I'm being a bit picky here -- because I think this is a "better safe than sorry" situation. I think it is a good idea for all of us to try to hash out something that we think would work well for us -- and still stay within the law. So, don't take my comments too harshly -- I'm purposefully trying to be thorough and error on the side of safety here.

- John...

ESA 2 (by Ken [NY]) Posted on: Aug 11, 2017 12:51 PM

What do you do when the smarter than average tenant doesn't even tell you they have a service or emotional support dog and you just show up one day and there it is?It is considered no different than a medical device therefore why would they even discuss it with you up front?I think any tenant who mentions to you that they have a service dog is either wanting the approval of the prospective landlord or has a guilty concinence because they know what they are doing is a scam.

ESA 2 (by John... [MI]) Posted on: Aug 11, 2017 12:59 PM

Ken: So you're saying that the ones that tell the landlord up from about their animal is either a good tenant (because they want the approval of the landlord) or a bad tenant (because they are scamming them).

So, that leaves us pretty much back at square one, right? Because they ones that tell us are either good or bad.

heh. I'm not sure what the point of that was then?

- John...

ESA 2 (by John... [MI]) Posted on: Aug 11, 2017 12:59 PM

Ken: So you're saying that the ones that tell the landlord up front about their animal is either a good tenant (because they want the approval of the landlord) or a bad tenant (because they are scamming them).

So, that leaves us pretty much back at square one, right? Because they ones that tell us are either good or bad.

heh. I'm not sure what the point of that was then?

- John...

ESA 2 (by Ken [NY]) Posted on: Aug 11, 2017 2:35 PM

John,I guess my point was why do they even tell the landlord they have a service dog?If I was a tenant I wouldn't even mention it until the landlord brought it up once I was in the unit and at that point it would be too late and nothing could be done about it,at least not legally or properly

ESA 2 (by Gene [OH]) Posted on: Aug 11, 2017 4:45 PM

Ken [NY], if they don't tell you about the service animal or ESA before they move in, then they have essentially lied if you give them such a form. My application states that I can end the lease if they have lied on their application or other forms. That would be an out for the landlord.

ESA 2 (by Vee [OH]) Posted on: Aug 11, 2017 5:06 PM

The correct paperwork has been here a hundred times, you need the doctor rx for that dog and that person - nothing less.

ESA 2 (by phil [NY]) Posted on: Aug 11, 2017 5:22 PM

No where under the FHAact or Section 504 when discussing who can prescribed for an ESA listing Physicians, Psychiatrist, social worker or mental health care provider does the statute required for the professional to be licensed within the state

Remember a complaint the LL is violating FFHact or Section 504 is not brought in your local LL/tenant court but filed with HUD and an intake specialist, which your application placing additional requirements can be used to show Prima facie evidence of your intent to violated the statute, if the intake specialist believes there is merit in the complaint then you will be subject to discovery forcing you to turn over allot of documentation, depositions etc

ESA 2 (by John... [MI]) Posted on: Aug 11, 2017 5:31 PM

Vee: Yes, we've DISCUSSED it here 100 times, but nothing has really been decided as "correct." For example, even you are repeating that you need a "Doctor's Prescription" for the dog -- and that would be INCORRECT.

So, I think it is a worthwhile discussion. Since so many LLs are clearly poorly informed about this.

- John...


ESA 2 (by Lana [IN]) Posted on: Aug 11, 2017 5:53 PM

Thanks for the input. My city ordinances do require vaccination. When I go to the HUD site to read up on this issue, I do get the impression that a "real" practitioner is expected to write the letter. The websites are pretty blatant," Get your ESA letter here for Landlords and Airlines for only $69.99." I hope the fact that airlines are being pounded by these people will help bring some big money to the fight.

The issue just came up again as a tenant moved in a boyfriend and his dog who she states is a "medical" dog.

Since he is a guest and not a Tenant on the Lease, I hope there is a little more leeway here.

ESA 2 (by BRAD 20,000 [IN]) Posted on: Aug 11, 2017 7:04 PM


I like your concept and agree this has turned into craziness.

Let's lobby the Indiana legislature to set some rule. In wacky tenant friendly CA there is a $250 fine and/or up to 6 months jail time for fraudulently claiming a service animal. Other states are following.

I just spent 90 minutes one on one with my local Fair Housing director.

Q #1 cannot be asked of a service animal.

Overall, I learned to NOT teach them how to qualify. The first line of defense is "knowledge is power". Not knowing how to qualify knocks out some scammer at the start.

She agreed I should not list anything about service animals on my application as it might encourage scammers or show them a way to get through.

I decided to make them come to me with the proper info. THEY must make a request and back it up properly. I just respond yes or "taking under advisement".

She did say the service animal designation is only good for one year and must be renewed.

Here's what I have done:

1. Talked with the local director and now I understand what she will/will not accept. She also knows I'm a reasonable person and TRYING to follow the rules in case someone files a complaint. She helped me remove a lot of myths about this issue.

2. My application says "List Animals_____" I don't know if this will truly stand up if challenged but at least I can deny if they leave this blank because we require a response in all fields and/or they lied by not disclosing the "animal".

3. I AM allowed to choose the "best" applicant so I actively market to animal owners to bring in higher rents.

I know this does not cover add-ons. More work to be done!

Your "medical" dog is a great indicator of a scammer using the wrong terms.

4. The good news: the Fair Housing folks are getting tired of service animal scammers and are starting to see how they are affecting the legit residents with service animals.

BUT...they are "the govt" so don't hold your breathe for a good solution soon!

I just met a service animal. He was mostly blind, mostly deaf, and too arthritic to walk from here to there. His job is to nuzzle the owner when she feels stressed (SERVICE, not ESA) but I don't know how he could get to her. New issue - what happens when they can no longer perform their task or they die? Will this ever end!?!?


ESA 2 (by Barb [MO]) Posted on: Aug 12, 2017 9:27 AM

A program service dog, such as one raised by Dogs for the Deaf, Guide dogs for the Blind, Canine Companions for Independence, etc, is always owned by the organization. They require the human go through recertification every year or two. If the human doesn't keep up the training, they pull the dog. Plus, they require extensive paperwork to get the dog, including from the Dr agreeing the dog is needed. If the dog is retired because it can no longer perform it's tasks, they determine if the household should keep the dog or send it to a retirement home. At that point, the senior dog is a pet.

I'm glad I established my Scooter Test. It seems to work well. No one can argue with it, either.

Subject: RE: ESA 2
Your Name:
Your State:

Would you like to be notified via email when somebody replies to this thread?
If so, you must include your valid email address here. Do not add your address more than once per thread/subject. By entering your email address here, you agree to receive notification from every time anyone replies to "this" thread. You will receive response notifications for up to one week following the original post. Your email address will not be visible to readers.
Email Address: