Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets

Difference Between Service, Emotional Support Animals and Pets

Have you recently become a landlord in Pensacola, FL? Are you looking to rent out a second property and make some passive income? If so, you may be wondering how to craft a pet policy for potential tenants.

There are three main types of animals: emotional support animals, pets, and service animals. So what's the difference between them? Read on to learn more so you can make an informed decision.

Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals can't be legally protected unless the owner can provide their disability needs an emotional support animal. They are different from service animals in many ways.

For instance, an owner can go to any therapist to receive an emotional support animal certificate. They do not need to go through the types of certifications required to register a service animal.

In Florida, emotional support animals don't receive training to assist their owners with tasks. Instead, they provide therapeutic relief.

For landlords, a potential tenant must provide a letter signed by a healthcare provider that proves the emotional support animal helps with symptoms of their disability.

If you don't want to get in trouble, it may be better to accept tenants with ESAs. You can avoid thorny discrimination issues.


As a landlord, you have full discretion over whether to allow pets on your property. Pets do not have any legal protection, and you can ban pets except support animals and service animals.

One benefit of allowing pet owners is that you can widen the tenant pool. You may have trouble finding people who don't have pets or don't plan to get a pet in the future.

It may also help you to keep tenants longer. Since it can be difficult to find pet-friendly rentals, tenants are more likely to renew their lease and pay their rent on time.

There are also downsides to allowing pets. Even if you put rules in the rental agreement, you can still suffer from damage to your rental property.

Sometimes pets who are untrained can cause enough destruction to outweigh the original security deposit. Pets like dogs and birds can also be loud. They can also cause you more stress as a landlord.

Service Animals

Under the law, you cannot discriminate against people with valid service animals. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, you need to allow them to have their service animals and provide other necessary accommodations.

For instance, if someone with vision loss has a blind dog, you should include amenities that help both the owner and dog navigate the unit easily. Not complying with the ADA can cause costly legal problems down the road.

Pets in a Rental Property

If you're a landlord, you should decide if support animals and pets are allowed in your rental property. Use this guide to weigh the pros and cons of each.

Are you ready to begin your property management journey in Pensacola? PMI C-Shell is the partner to help you with everything you need.

Reach out to us today to learn more.