“My park has a strict no-pets policy, or so I thought. There are several residents in my park who have ’emotional support animals,’ while the rest of us can’t have any pets at all. Is that really fair?”
-Grace B. (58), Grand Rapids, MI
We understand that it may feel unfair that some residents can have animals in the park while others cannot. However, there is a likely reason for why your park management allows for this discrepancy.
Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), park management is prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. This includes allowing disabled residents to have reasonable accommodations such as keeping emotional support animals in their homes, even when the park has a no-pet policy in place. To qualify for an emotional support animal (ESA) under the FHA, an individual must have a disability as defined by law, and the presence of the animal must be necessary to provide emotional support that alleviates one or more symptoms of the disability. Documentation may be requested by park management in order to grant the new or continued residency of individuals with ESAs.
In general, park management is required to make reasonable accommodations for owners of ESAs. However, there are some exceptions. Management is not required to accommodate animals that are a direct threat to the health or safety of others, or that would cause substantial damage to property. Furthermore, the animal’s owner must be responsible for the animal, ensuring that it complies with local animal control laws and is not a nuisance to other residents in the park.
- Emotional support animals are protected under the Fair Housing Act.
- Park management may request documentation of a resident’s disability and need for an emotional support animal.
- The owner is responsible for the emotional support animal’s behavior.