Held Hostage by Emotional Support Animals, How far will it go?!

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Live in Laramie Real Estate, Laramie, Wyoming WY #12296

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.


tied up in a chair

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. 




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?


Cat in A window from iclip art

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?



Posted by

Brenda Whitman, Broker/Co-owner                                                Office Phone: 307.460.3298

Live in Laramie Real Estate                                                                Cell Phone: 307.399.5477

302 S 2nd Street, Suite 206                                                      E-mail: brenda@liveinlaramie.com

Laramie, Wyoming  82070                                                       Office Website:  www.liveinlaramie.com


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Mike Cooper
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro

Brenda, I have never run across this, but I wouldn't be surprised to in the future. 

Oct 13, 2017 12:53 PM #37
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Such a tough situation. I'm not a pet owner or a landlord...my opinion would be that the landlord has the right to not allow pets. If someone must have an ESA, they would have to find a place that allowed them.

Oct 13, 2017 01:12 PM #38
Pat Starnes, Brandon, MS
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
Front Gate Realty ~ 601-991-2900 Office

GREAT question! As a landlord, I had a "no pet" policy, yet a tenant was allowed to move in that had a service animal. The property manager did not consult me prior to, which I feel is a mistake. My rights as a landlord should have trumped a "potential" tenant. I love animals, but I have seen first hand the damage they can do if not properly trained.

Oct 13, 2017 03:19 PM #39
Marie-Denise Kratsios
Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty - Huntington, NY

i love animals, but there is definitely a lot of confusion on the subject, which isn't helped by the fact that HUD's  regulations on the subject is very different from the Dept of Justice's (American with Disabilities Act)regulations.  For example, the Dept. of Justice says that the American Disabilities Act only pertains to service animals (which is defined as dogs and, suprisingly, miniature horses) and excludes Emotional Support Animals.  They also say animals must be house-broken and under control, either by leash or by voice or signal control.  HUD makes no mention of this and says that there can be no discrimination due to breed of animal.  So, if you have chldren in your home and someone who has a pit bull wants to rent your accessory apartment, you must let them.  

Oct 13, 2017 05:58 PM #40
Steven Lunetta
Home Showings Property Management - Elk Grove, CA
Flat Fee Full Service Property Management

I was in the bulk food section of my neighborhood grocery store. This is a large section and the tubs are two deep and two high. Lady was with her dog while she was opening lids. The dog was sniffing in the tubs with its nose. She opened more then one tub and the dog was sniffing in them. You can't blame the dog. It is doing what dogs do but I think its unsanitised to allow pets to do that. People have to remember to leave their pets at home.

Oct 13, 2017 06:40 PM #41
Michelle Carr-Crowe-Top 1% Diamond Certified Real Estate Team Sells Cupertino San Jose Homes-Just Call 408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

It's a challenging issue-some people's ESA's are for valid health needs and other folks are lying to get their pets in any way they can.

Oct 13, 2017 08:38 PM #42
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

There really needs to be standards established for real WSA needs as well as acceptable behavior by the pets and their owners.

Oct 14, 2017 04:40 AM #43
Jenniffer Lee
RE/MAX Complete Solutions - Boca Raton, FL
Broker/Owner/Realtor at RE/MAX Complete Solutions

I do think we have gone to far. There are laws against pets in supermarkets and restaurants for a reason, but business owners and managers are afraid to say anything when they see them because they fear they are ESAs. We are violating the rights of the no-pet-community-chooser by allowing and ESA into the community. As far as showing homes, if you need and ESA to show home, you need to ask each owners permission to enter. I am allergic and would be horrified (and very pissed) if an ESA or other animal was brought into my home without my okay. If you can't show my home without your ESA, then don't show my home and if you are showng homes with and ESA, you should certainly be getting permission from the owners in advance.

Oct 14, 2017 05:05 AM #44
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of Manchester NH's Leading Agents

It is beciming common to run into these situations an the hard part is whether I ask or dont ask.  if they are a ESA. Peope are just bringing their pets everywhere and like me with allergies, makes life hard being on a plane next to a lady with a dog on her lap. 

Oct 14, 2017 06:06 AM #45
Michelle Edwards
Realty One Group Trilogy - San Bernardino, CA
Licensed Realtor® in California and Nevada

Am I wrong to expect that service animals be highly trained in order to receive the certification?

Oct 14, 2017 06:46 AM #46
Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC
Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC - Rockledge, FL
... a small office, delivering big service!

While I can appreciate the need for an ESA I think a constantly barking ESA would be dealt with pretty much like any nuisance.

Oct 14, 2017 10:38 AM #47
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

What I don't understand and never will understand is some people's need to intrude in places where they are not wanted.

Is it just to prove they can?

If you have a dog or a cat or a lizard, rent a place that allows pets. Or get your money together and buy your own home - but not in a neighborhood that disallows pets.

I'm a dog person and I appreciate pet lovers of all stripes, but I sure wouldn't try to impose my preferences on anyone else.

Oct 14, 2017 12:15 PM #48
Barry Brown
Bear Realty - Taylorsville, UT

This is just another example of the failure of government by passing laws that make no sense and produce another class of protected minorities that can use those laws to bully the rational majority. 

Years ago only animals that were really necessary, such as seeing eye dogs, were allowed to be where animals in general were not permitted.  These dogs were well trained and performed a necessary service to the owners.  At that time people seemed to get along just fine without ESA's.

Oct 14, 2017 08:42 PM #49
Mickey Hayward
Sunset Properties, Hayward Realty - Onancock, VA
Farm - Land - Home Sales & Commercial Real Estate

I have seen people in grocery stores with dogs and, on two occasions, though the dogs were on a leash they were free to sniff and lick on food packaging on lower shelves while the owners looked away as they carried on conversations with people. I’m all for ESA but, as you say, this can become challenging. How does society balance the needs of ESA with health and safety and others’ rights in property management or any other public venue? I don’t think there is a real good answer to that question.

Again, I am all for ESA. I am a military veteran. They are a lifeblood for many people in our society who have a disability or who have undergone serious trauma in their lives.

Oct 15, 2017 05:09 AM #50
Alyse "Aly" Sands
Village Real Estate Services - Nashville, TN

There are some people who truly need ESA animals for their well being but there are also people who simply want to take their dogs everywhere they go with them. I believe that this devalues those who truly need the emotional support.

Because of those who abuse the privilege, there will need to be hard-and-fast rules as far as the behavior of the animals go. They should need to be professionally trained and certificates presented (I do not know the rules now). I've also seen forums in which buyers want to bring their pets into sellers' homes. This is not okay if it is not okay with the sellers.

Oct 15, 2017 07:49 AM #51
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

According to HUD, Pet Restrictions cannot be used to deny or limit housing to people with disabilities who require assistance animals.

It is sad that a property owner does not have reasonable ability to say who can use their property.

I could not be a landlord today.

Oct 16, 2017 06:23 AM #52
Fred Griffin
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

     There are websites that sell "Service Animal" sweaters and collars.   No certificate or proof or anything is needed, just pay with your Visa card and it's in the mail.    

Oct 17, 2017 07:22 PM #53
Stavrula "Sam" Crafa, RNC,GRI, CDPE, PSA
Future Home Realty - Seminole, FL
Providing the integrity and service you deserve.

I think the ESA's should have some officially issued identification that must be on them when ever they are out and about. That would at least eliminate those people that pass their pets off as a service animal but they are not. I saw a guy just the other day bring his dog in the grocery store and just walking around with him. It looked like any other dog with absolutely no identification at all. Now that's a problem. 

Oct 18, 2017 08:31 PM #54
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

People take advantage of things like this. There is a big difference between a legitimate service dog and the everyday loved companion pet.  We did have a gal once say she had a seeing eye dog and we had to allow her to rent... however she was driving a car and her papers were forged. 

Nov 11, 2017 01:26 AM #55
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

Certified Service dogs cannot be barred from any place, so, should anyone have or has an issue with service animals, they could always find alternative accommodations. 

Dec 06, 2017 03:50 AM #56
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Brenda Whitman, Live in Laramie Real Estate

Broker/Co-Owner, Laramie, Wyoming
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