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Can a Tenant Have a Support Animal in My California Rental Property?

Can a Tenant Have a Support Animal in My California Rental Property?

We can all agree that animals are dependable and are there for us when we need them. In fact, did you know that over 200,000 people live with an emotional support animal in the United States?

As a landlord who owns California rental property, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by state laws. Are support animals allowed or not? Continue reading to learn if your California tenant is legally allowed to live with their support animal.

What Is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal is a companion who helps humans struggling with mental health disorders. In fact, researchers have found that owning a pet has positive effects on mental health. Animals foster emotional connectivity and help people manage in times of crisis.

These support animals are known to help lessen anxiety and depression, offer trauma support, decrease loneliness, and much more. Currently, there is no California law requirement on what type of animal qualifies as an emotional support animal. 

Support Animals vs. Service Animals

There is one main difference between a support animal and a service animal. A service animal performs necessary medical services. These animals go through rigorous training and must have their certification.

Support animals, on the other hand, do not need training or certifications. 

Can a California Landlord Deny a Request to Keep a Support Animal?

Even though a support animal doesn't need to undergo any training, a tenant must be able to show proof to their landlord that they own a registered, medically prescribed emotional support animal. This proof called the Emotional Support Animal Letter would include a signed letter from a medical professional with notes on why the animal is needed.

In California, tenants are protected under the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) support animal laws. These laws state that a landlord cannot require training for a support animal. Landlords also cannot refuse housing because of a support animal. Finally, landlords cannot require an additional monthly fee or deposit for a support animal.

However, if there is any damage done to the apartment because of the emotional support animal, a landlord may ask for money to pay for repairs. As a landlord, you must carefully comply with all California state laws or risk being sued by your tenant.


There are a few exceptions to the law for when a landlord may deny a tenant's request to live with their support animal.

  • The tenant doesn't show proof or submits a fake Emotional Support Animal Letter
  • The animal is illegal in your state
  • The animal is destructive to your property
  • The animal is threatening to you or others

Allowing a Support Animal

When it comes to California state law, it is legal for a tenant to live with their support animal as long as they show you proof and the animal isn't threatening or destructive. 

For more information on California state housing laws and tips for landlords, contact us today!