Held Hostage by Emotional Support Animals, How Far Will It Go?!
Let's get real about ESA - Emotional Support Animals. Everyone and their dog (ha ha, I'm hilarious, I know!) has one anymore. They are everywhere - planes, apartments, stores, Dr. offices, etc. You name the place - someone will have seen one there or have a tale of someone else who did.
As real estate professionals, especially those of us who practice property management, it is taboo to even dare express an opionion lest we be accused of violating Fair Housing guidelines. So, I won't even go there.
I completely understand that there are folks out there who have a legitimate need for an ESA which alleviates one or more identified symtoms or effects of a their disability.
I GET IT.
Where it gets tricky is balancing the right of my property owners and other tenants with the rights of the person with the ESA. The property owners we work with choose to have a no pets policy. The properties are advertised as such and all tenants who sign on to live there have an reasonable expectation that there will be no animals around.
Thus the challenge begins. Where does the rights of one end and the other begin?
For example: We had a tenant that was so afraid of cats that she could not enter any property with a cat in it. How do you think that tenant felt about an ESA cat hanging out in the window next door to her apartment watching her come and go?
What about the ESA dog that barks all day while its owner is at work?
Or the tenant that allowed their ESA dog to run without a leash (against city code and the rules we discussed with them) and jumping on other tenants?
We have successfully dealt with and solved all the described situations and more. But as ESA's become more and more common, it begs the question:
Where do the rights of one end and the other begin?