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How Many Support Animals Are Virginia Tenants Allowed to Have?

How Many Support Animals Are Virginia Tenants Allowed to Have?

Almost three-quarters of pet owners believe that their pets improved their mental health. This isn't surprising, given the long history of animals in therapy settings.

In the 21st century, people have taken this a step further with emotional support animals. Service animals have existed for decades to help people with particular disabilities, such as blindness. However, recognizing them as medically necessary for people with anxiety and related mental conditions is a new concept.

Since they're new to the public consciousness, laws regarding support animals are lacking, and most people aren't aware of the laws that do exist. Are you allowed to have support animals on a Virginia property? We'll discuss that here.

Service Animals vs Support Animals

Before discussing where support animals are and aren't allowed, we need to define what emotional support animals are and how they differ from service animals. The biggest difference is that service animals have more regulations.

Service animals have to undergo extensive training so that they can assist their owners with important tasks. Seeing-eye dogs, for example, need four months of training plus almost a year of basic obedience. Because of this, some of them come with certifications, although public officials can't ask for them.

Emotional support animals are different. Both emotional support animals and service animals are protected under the Fair Housing Act, but emotional support animals need a letter from your doctor to be considered legitimate. This letter functions as the official designation, and you will need to show it to your landlord before the animal can live with you.

Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act will celebrate its 56th anniversary in a matter of days. It was signed into law on the 11th of April, 1968. This law guaranteed housing rights to several populations regardless of race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, disability status, and a host of other circumstances.

By extension, it also applies to all reasonable accommodations that residents require in their daily lives. This applies even if there are rules against pets, and landlords aren't allowed to charge fees for them.

The federal government has made no law that limits the number of ESAs you're allowed to have. Neither has Virginia. There are some circumstances where landlords can deny ESAs to tenants, but the animals must be a threat to the health or property of other tenants.

This is important because the landlord is responsible for any repairs that must be made to a property. Tenants may find ways to nullify this risk, but if they can't, the denial stands.

How Many Support Animals Can You Have?

Emotional support animals are recognized by federal law, but the law does not recognize any limits to the number of support animals someone can have. That decision is left to state governments.

We've discussed the laws regarding emotional support animals in Virginia, but there's always more to learn. You can learn more about property management by reading our blog.

If you're in need of a property management service, we at Chambers Theory can help. Feel free to learn more about our team before making a decision.