The Nest

NestApple's Real Estate Blog

Featuring real estate articles and information to help real estate buyers and sellers. The Nest features writings from Georges Benoliel and other real estate professionals. Georges is the Co-Founder of NestApple and has been working as an active real estate investor for over a decade.

Paw-fect Tenants: Navigating Emotional Support Animal Policies in NY Rentals

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If you rely on your pet for emotional support, ensuring they can go with you wherever you go is crucial. But when you live in a big city, especially one as wired and bustling as New York, finding housing that accommodates live-in animals can be complex. Fortunately, New York’s housing policies around emotional support animals (ESAs) are surprisingly obliging—as long as you know the rules and how to leverage them in your favor.

If you’re searching for an ESA-friendly rental in New York, this post is for you. Below, we’ll explore your options as a tenant with an ESA and guide you through rental and housing policies about these critical companions while living in New York City.

What are the emotional support animal policies in New York?

Finding policies for ind pet-friendly animations in New York cannot be easy. Not only is competition for property steep in this densely populated city, but most landlords aren’temotional support animal policies fond of animals living on their property, especially in apartments.

However, when that animal is an ESA, things change.

Like many states, New York has a Human Rights Law that protects against disability discrimination in public housing. This law applies to all types of disabled individuals, including those who rely on ESAs to provide them with crucial emotional or psychiatric support.

This means that a landlord cannot deny you occupancy based solely on the fact that you have a pet, so long as the animal in question is a qualified ESA and the matter has been discussed before the move-in date.

Which mental or emotional health conditions qualify for an ESA in New York?

An ESA is different from a regular pet. ESAs provide therapeutic emotional support for people with mental illnesses. They provide relief for individuals with “psychiatric disabilities through companionship,” i.e., their presence and companionship are crucial for their owner’s well-being.

Unlike guide animals, ESAs do not need training. If you want to qualify your pet for ESA status, you’ll need to have a reference from a therapist or mental health professional validating that you have an illness or disorder of some kind, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Phobias or fears
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic attacks

ESAs are similar to guide animals in that their presence is essential by a professional for their owner to function. However, instead of a physical disability, they provide support for emotional or mental illnesses.

How to ensure your pet is allowed in your NY residence

If you need a rental that can accommodate your ESA, don’t panic. There is a simple step-by-step process you can follow, and chances are, you’re already halfway there—especially if you’ve already gotten your ESA certified.

But for clarity, we’ll take you through all the steps, from applying for your pet to become an ESA to working out the finer details of your stay with your landlord.

Apply for your pet to become an ESA.

First, give your animal qualified ESA status. Without this qualification, New York landlords aren’t likely to take your reply for your pet to become an ESA by going through an organization without this qualification, like CertaPet or ESA Doctors. They’ll require a mental healthcare professional’s reference letter and pre-screening you and your animal to assess whether ESA status is necessary.

Receive your ESA qualification letter.

Once you and your pet have been screened, your chosen organization will approve or disapprove of your animal’s ESA qualification. Assuming they approve of it, you’ll receive a letter of qualification that you can use as proof that your pet is an official ESA and needs to cohabit with you for your mental and emotional well-being.

Inform your landlord that you have an ESA.

Whether you are applying to move into a new rental or want to update the circumstances at your current one, communicating your situation to your landlord is essential.

Inform your landlord that you have an ESA and explain why you must live with them. The sooner you do this, the better. Naturally, New Yorker landlords (and landlords in general) will prefer to be respectfully informed in advance about these critical matters so they don’t lead to challenging situations or unexpected requests to vacate based on unauthorized pets.

Formally submit the ESA qualification letter to your landlord

Once you have opened up the conversation about your ESA with your landlord, submit your qualification letter to them for legitimacy.

The letter will include a basic description of your ESA and relevant information about why their presence is necessary and when the qualification was obtained. However, no personal details will be disclosed.

You don’t have to divulge the details of your mental or emotional disorders to a landlord or anyone else. Just the basic information is required.

Talk to and address concerns with your landlord.

At this point in the process, it is normal for your landlord to have questions or concerns about your ESA living with you on their property, especially if it is not a typical pet, such as a dog or a cat. Try to be as accommodating as possible.

They may want to know more about the animal’s size, needs, and habits to protect the property against damages or other pet-caused issues.

Can any animal be an ESA in New York?

Yes! Any animal can qualify for an emotional support animal in New York.

However, not all ESAs qualify to move into rental arrangements. Commonly domesticated pets like dogs, cats, rabbits, and rodents are the easiest to qualify for cohabiting a rental in New York.

Find Your New Home With These Tips

Finding rental accommodation in New York with an animal can feel nearly impossible—but if that animal has ESA status, doors open up. Use this guide to navigate rental applications in the Big Apple to ensure you find the perfect property for you and your ESA to call home.

Written By: Georges Benoliel

Georges has been working in Wall Street for the last 16 years trading derivatives with hedge funds. He has been an active real estate investor for over a decade. Georges graduated from HEC Business School in Paris and holds a master in Finance from ESADE Barcelona.

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