A Guide to Emotional Support Animal Laws for Landlords in Hawaii

A Guide to Emotional Support Animal Laws for Landlords in Hawaii

Studies show that emotional support animals benefit people with anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. The results are clear—animals have a positive impact on people's lives.

There has been an increase in the number of emotional support animals in the USA over the past few years. Landlords should have a good understanding of emotional support animal laws by state to be able to apply the law to their rental properties.

What are a landlord's obligations when it comes to emotional support animals in Hawaii?

Read this guide to learn more about emotional support animals' laws in the state of Hawaii. 

What Is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal, or ESA, is an animal that provides a therapeutic benefit to a person with a disability. These animals must be prescribed by a certified mental health professional. They must first evaluate the patient and confirm that a support animal will have a positive impact on their mental health. 

People who are prescribed an emotional support animal may suffer from one of the following mental illnesses or disabilities:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • panic attacks
  • chronic pain 
  • PTSD

The Difference Between an Emotional Support Animal and a Service Animal

Service animals are legally recognized animals that are professionally trained to perform tasks specific to their owner's disability. Emotional support animals are not trained to do any specific tasks, they instead provide comfort and emotional support. 

A service animal is almost always a dog, while an emotional support animal can be any animal the owner is most comforted by. This could be a dog, cat, lizard, fish, or any other animal of their choosing.

What Emotional Support Animal Laws Are in Place in Hawaii?

The state of Hawaii offers broad protection to people who need support animals. But this primarily applies to service animals, which are different from emotional support animals. Service animals are defined by Hawaii's social services law as: 

  • psychiatric service animals for people who suffer from anxiety or panic attacks
  • hearing dogs
  • guide dogs
  • seizure alert animals
  • allergen alert animals

Unlike service animals, emotional support animals are not trained to perform specific tasks for their owners. They are therefore exempt from the same protections under Hawaii law. 

How Does This Apply to Housing in Hawaii?

Hawaii's fair housing law prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities and those who require service animals. The landlord may impose reasonable restrictions in this case, but even a "no pets" provision will not apply to an official service animal. 

In accordance with the federal Fair Housing Act, rental properties must allow both service dogs and emotional support animals. To fall under this provision, however, you must have a disability or mental illness confirmed by a licensed health care provider. 

To summarize: Hawaii's laws exclude any specific housing accommodations for emotional support animals, unless where federal regulations apply. 

Emotional Support Animal Housing Laws In Hawaii

There is no denying that service pets and emotional support pets play an important role in their owners' lives. However, as a landlord in Hawaii, it's important to be up-to-date with the latest applicable emotional support animal laws.

At Home River Group, we offer a large range of personalized property management services. Follow our blog for all the latest news about property management in Kona and all of your property needs in the state of Hawaii. 

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