Can I be evicted for having an emotional support animal if the lease says no pets?

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Can I be evicted for having an emotional support animal if the lease says no pets?

I’m mentally disabled, Social Security is paying me disability as I’m unable to function normally outside the home. I have a cat for emotional support. My doctor keeps telling me to give a letter from her to my landlord informing them I have the ES cat. She says they can’t kick me out even though the lease says, “No pets under any circumstances! Violation will result in immediate eviction!” (all in caps). I’m afraid to give it to landlord, so instead I’m hiding my cat causing extra stress on myself. A friend told me they might charge extra money, I can’t afford, for the cat if they do let me stay. Can landlord charge extra for ES animal?

Asked on September 23, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

First and foremost, you need to check with your local ADA support center to see if an emotional support animal qualifies under the ADA like a seeing eye dog or assist animal. If it does, make sure you get a letter from your doctor and the ADA to show you can have a pet and the landlord cannot discriminate for those reasons. You will most likely have to pay an extra security deposit for this animal, which is often used to help defray costs of cleaning and repair from damage caused by the animal purely living there (think urine scent and stains, clawing at walls). If your landlord allows you to have the animal but you cannot afford the deposit, you may indeed have to find new living quarters.


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