San Diego Property Management Blog

Support Animals in San Diego Rentals: What Landlords Should Know

Support Animals in San Diego Rentals: What Landlords Should Know

Did you know there are around 200,000 emotional support animals in the USA? Many of those live with their owners in rented accommodation. 

You might have your own ideas and policies on pets in rentals, but support animals are a different matter. There are special sets of rules which may mean even no pet properties need to make an exception in this case. 

Want to learn more about the legal ins and outs? Stick around. We've put together this article full of landlord tips to help you understand the issue. 

The Difference Between Service and Support Animals

Before we understand how landlords are impacted by support animal laws, we need to understand exactly what support animals are.

An emotional support animal (ESA) is an animal that provides, well, emotional support. That might come in the form of physical affection, or simply by providing a comforting presence. 

Note they are different from service animals. Service animals are trained to provide help with specific tasks and are covered by different legislation. 

The Basic Support Animal Rules 

The Federal Fair Housing Act (FFHA) and the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) say that landlords must allow eligible tenants to live with a support animal, even if pets are not allowed. 

Not just any pet can be considered an ESA, and not everyone is eligible to have one. The tenant must have a disability, and the animal must provide help for them to manage the disability. 

Although landlords can't bar tenants with support animals, they are allowed to charge a deposit for any damage the animal might reasonably be expected to cause. 

Can Any Animal Be a Support Animal?

Essentially, the answer is yes. While service animals need to be highly-trained creatures with the right temperament, support animals have much lower expectations.

That's why some ESAs may be a little more exotic than others. Some folks have support rabbits, mice, and even bearded dragons!

Don't worry though. Landlords aren't expected to accommodate an animal that could pose a threat to people or is likely to cause extreme damage to your property. You're unlikely to need to make provisions for a support rhino or lion in your apartment! 


Before making a final decision on allowing a support animal into a property, it's important to check a tenant's documentation. This will help you stay on the right side of support animal laws in your area. 

A doctor's note or ESA certification is normally enough to prove that a support animal is legitimate. When you work with us to manage your rental properties, we'll handle this part of the process as part of our usual tenant screening

Take the Stress Out of Property Management

Having support animals on a property can cause an extra headache for landlords. If you didn't plan on allowing pets on your property, suddenly having to deal with an animal might cause you a little more stress.

By outsourcing property management for your rentals, you can make life easy for yourself. 

Check out the property management services we offer today. We'll work with you to provide all the services you require for your San Diego real estate, including dealing with any animals on the property!