Technically: No, it’s not essential.
But: It’s still probably a better idea to disclose.
Renters with emotional support animals (ESA) often face a quandary when signing a new lease, especially if they are moving to a no-pets building. Even though ESA owners are protected against discrimination under housing laws, they worry they will be denied because of their animal.
Is an ESA a pet?
Under Fair Housing guidelines, emotional support animals are not considered pets and are exempt from pet policies. Even buildings that ban all pets have to reasonably accommodate ESAs. Not only that, ESA are exempt from pet fees and deposits, as well as size and breed limitations.
It’s your choice.
You can choose to disclose your ESA after you sign a lease. Your landlord must consider your ESA letter in good faith even after you sign a lease and move in.
Most landlords fully acknowledge their Fair Housing obligations and accept ESA letters without a problem. You should be confident that housing laws protect you from discrimination. Instead of hiding your ESA to avoid conflict, full disclosure is the best way to stay in your landlord’s good graces and to prevent unexpected confrontations later on.
If you’re struggling with your emotional or mental health and animals make you feel better, see if you can qualify for an ESA.