The Laws Regarding Support Animals in Rental Properties

The Laws Regarding Support Animals in Rental Properties

There's a reason why emotional support animals are growing in popularity. Owning a pet can help one overcome isolation, they release oxytocin in the brain, and pets can help children with socialization skills. These are the many reasons why 74% of pet owners say their animals improved their mental health.

But property owners have a reason not to allow pets on their property. Pets can cause property damage and increase liability. At the least, constant barking and meowing can annoy neighbors.

While most property investors know there are laws about service animals, what if a tenant says they have an emotional support pet? What are the laws in Tennessee about renting property to tenants with an emotional support animal?

Emotional Support vs. Service Animal

First, it's essential to outline the differences between emotional support and service animals.

A service animal leads or assists a tenant with a physical disability. Tenants with a service animal may be deaf, blind, have a seizure disorder, or even have strict food allergies.

An emotional support animal helps its owner manage emotional and mental disabilities. Some pets comfort an owner if they're having a panic attack. Other animals are there for critical reasons, like reminding disabled owners to take their medications.

Emotional Support Animals in Tennessee: What the Laws Say

All businesses must accommodate ADA laws surrounding emotional support animals. But Tennessee's laws mainly cover service dogs for physical disabilities. While there are service and support animal protections for mental disabilities, there are limited resources for those with psychiatric problems.

Do You Need to Allow Emotional Support Animals?


Tennessee laws mainly cover service animals that assist with their owner's physical disability.

If your tenant has a proven mental disability and their support animal was prescribed by a medical provider, you must allow the animal on your rental property. But they must have documentation proving their disability and support animal.

There are no laws about support animals and psychiatric disorders. As a landlord, it's your choice to allow emotional support animals onto your property.

Can You Set Rules on Support Animals?

While you can't break support animal laws, can you still set rules and restrictions? There are limitations you should know about. Under federal law, you can't force your tenant to pay extra rent or a deposit for an emotional support pet. You also can't apply weight and breed restrictions.

Landlords do have some control. For example, if the support animal causes any damage, you can force the tenant to pay for them. If the animal shows any dangerous behavior, you can kick them off of your property.

Know the Laws on Support Animals in Tennessee

Support animals assist owners with mental disabilities and psychiatric disorders. While landlords must allow support animals for tenants with mental disabilities, they can deny a support animal if the tenant only has a psychological condition. Landlords can't charge extra rent or a security deposit if the tenant has a mental disability, but they can request animal removal if the pet has dangerous behavior.

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