Can l charge a tenant for an emotional support dog?

I rented a unit out and allowed the tenant to have one other person residing there per

contract, so long as l was given details for background check and to add on the lease addendum. Recently, l went to the property to discover a new person residing there who also had a dog. Per contract l do not allow pets unless an extra deposit, extra monthly rent and pet insurance is provided. When telling the new tenant l need her information and the above regarding the pet she told me that the pet was a emotional support dog. l arrived the next day with agreements for her self and a agreement stating while the animal resides at the property there will be a extra 1$50 a month, pet insurance and extra $500 deposit. We discussed it and she told me she would only be there for 2 months. As a good will gesture l reduced the amount to $100 for this time and no pet insurance. l put a note on agreement stating there will be a break of $50 a month for 2 months only as the tenant was only going to reside for that amount of time. This agreement was then signed by the current tenant and new. Then she showed me a email that she had registered her dog that day as a support dog and continuing to argue the extra payment. This shows me that the tenant had previously lied about having a emotional support dog and is just using it as a way to try and not pay. The current tenant did pay the extra $100 and the dog owner did pay the extra security. Can you tell me if in anyway lm in the wrong and that the pet support animal agreement l have signed will hold up in court if it comes to that?

Asked on July 3, 2016 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Legally, you may not charge someone for a emotional support dog IF the person has a legitimate medical need for one, as certified to by a physician: the physician's verification needs to state what condition she has (e.g. depression; anxiety or panic attacks; etc.) and the benefit the dog provides. It must be signed by a medical care  provider and should be on the provider's letterhead or prescription form(s). If she can prove that she has a legitimate medical need for the dog, then charging for it would be to discriminate against a disabled person in housing; however, she has to provide this proof. Merely registering the dog as an emotional support animal does not prove that this tenant has a verifiable medical condition requiring the dog. You can ask her for the additional documentation or proof and do not need to allow her to have the dog without charge unless she can establish her condition and need. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.