Emotional support animals are protected by federal and state laws in Montana. In this guide, we’ll provide a clear explanation of how these laws work. We’ll cover the following:
- Legal rights of emotional support animal owners.
- The latest developments in state law.
- Montana Fair Housing laws
- ESA lawsuits
Emotional Support Animal Rights in Montana
Emotional support animals are special pets that provide comfort for mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. In Montana, they have the legal right to live in buildings that ban pets (even if the lease prohibits pets).
Emotional support animals are also exempt from pet fees, pet deposits, and application fees. Not only that, but ESAs do not have to comply with breed and weight restrictions.
To call your pet an emotional support animal in Montana, you need an ESA letter from a therapist or doctor that complies with Montana state law. In the next section, we’ll explain Montana’s ESA laws in depth.
Montana’s Emotional Support Animal Law
Montana’s new law regarding emotional support animals, HB703, became effective on October 1, 2023. The law introduces several significant changes to the policies around emotional support animals and the issuance of ESA letters.
Here are the key aspects of this law:
- 30-Day Relationship Requirement: The law mandates that providers must have a minimum of a 30-day relationship with their clients before they can write an ESA letter for them.
- Landlord Obligations: Landlords can’t request information that discloses a diagnosis or severity of a tenant’s disability or any medical records relating to the disability. Landlords also have to give the tenant a written answer after the tenant has submitted their ESA request.
- Vaccination Requirement: Landlords can require proof of compliance with state and local licensure and vaccination requirements for each emotional support animal.
- Only ESA Letters Work: The law clarifies that an emotional support animal registration of any kind, including an identification card, patch, certificate, or similar registration, is not, by itself, sufficient to qualify for an emotional support animal.
- Tenant Responsibilities for Damages: The new law stipulates that tenants are responsible for any damages caused by their ESA, ensuring that tenants are accountable for the behavior and impact of their emotional support animals on the property.
- Multiple Emotional Support Animals: The new law clarifies that tenants can have more than one emotional support animal, but each ESA should be covered by an ESA letter.
If you need an ESA letter in Montana, ESA Doctors has you covered. You will work with a Montana-licensed professional who is up to date on the latest ESA procedures. They can write an ESA letter that checks all the right boxes for use in The Treasure State.
Montana Fair Housing Laws
Not only are emotional support animals protected by state law in Montana, they are also protected by federal Fair Housing laws. Fair Housing laws protect ESA owners from housing discrimination.
The rights under federal Fair Housing rules are almost identical to the protections under Montana law. That means both, federal and state law in Montana, allow emotional support animals to live in no-pet buildings, free of charge.
Montana Emotional Support Animal Lawsuits
Several lawsuits in Montana have shown how important assistance animals are in the state. In one case, a tenant won a $37,343 verdict against their landlord. The tenant needed a service dog for psychiatric and emotional support. The landlord charged the tenant a deposit for having the dog, which is not allowed for service dogs.
Even though this case was about a service dog and not an emotional support animal, it highlights the legal trouble landlords can face if they fail to properly accommodate assistance animals that help with psychiatric conditions.
In another case, an employee tried to bring their support dog to work. The court ruled that the man did not have a legal right to do so. The case highlights that owners of emotional support animals only have rights when it comes to housing and not the workplace.
Montana’s latest ESA law was intended as a step towards a more regulated and balanced approach to managing emotional support animals. It safeguards the rights and well-being of individuals reliant on emotional support animals while simultaneously addressing the concerns and responsibilities of landlords and healthcare providers. This law is a testament to Montana’s commitment to creating an inclusive yet accountable environment for all its residents who need an ESA.